Solar: Man of the Atom

30 Sep

In today’s post, I’ve decided to take a step off the beaten path and travel outside the Marvel and DC universe. One thing about getting into comic books that I’ve noticed is that once you step outside the realm of pop culture characters it becomes difficult to find decent reads. Even within the well known publishers, some of the lesser known characters can be rather inaccessible since there isn’t as much demand for copies and therefore finding good jumping in points can be difficult.

So, I consider myself lucky to be able to say that the comic I will be discussing today is not only one that I don’t think is super well known (makes me feel like I’m discovering something, even though I’m not), it’s also not very deep into it’s storyline. So, let’s get into Solar: Man of the Atom.

HISTORY

Solar was first created in 1962, the Silver Age of Comics, by Paul S. Newman and Matt Murphy for the publisher Gold Key, and was the company’s first original character. The series hit its peak in 1965 and with thanks to a decline in the comic book industry as a whole, was canceled after issue #25. Gold Key would later bring the character back in the 1980s for a short four issue run only to cancel it, once again following a fall in sales throughout the industry.

Solar reappeared, along with a new origin story, in 1991 under the publishing company Valiant which was working in tandem with Gold Key at the time. The series found relative success and continued until 1996 when it was canceled after issue #60.

The publishing rights to the character was then taken over by Acclaim, who issued a couple one-shot comics of the character, then by Dark Horse in 2008 who released old issues of the original Gold Key comics and claimed that it would be starting the series anew with a previous writer of the successful Valiant series, Jim Shooter. However, this never came to fruition and the latest reincarnation of the character began publication in March of 2014 from publisher Dynamite.

HOW TO GET STARTED

With the latest run of Solar beginning in March of 2014, this is one of those few times in a comic book’s life that you’ll be able to jump in right from the beginning. This section is going to be relatively short, start with issue #1.

ACCESSIBILITY

Dynamite claims that this is a complete revamp of the series, though they have kept the name of the character from series time under Valiant, which makes sense considering that to date it was the most successful run of the series. However, there seems to be several allusions to the older publications that can be troubling. One possibility is that the writers are simply adding depth that, as of issue #5, has not been fleshed out yet, or they could simply be expecting readers to know the old story lines.

I have not read any of Solar comics from previous publishers, but based on the research I’ve done for this post I am confident that it is one of those two choices, thought I would think it would be rather brash for the writers to assume readers to know the history of the character, especially sense the last time the character saw any major popularity was close to 25 years ago.

As it stands, the one issue I have with the story in terms of accessibility is that it seems to rely very heavily on the past of the character without really giving us a viable introduction to that history. That being said, it’s nothing so vague that it leaves you staring at the page in confusion, but it does make you scratch your head and say “Uhm, context?” at times.

I give it a 3 out of 5 on the accessibility to new readers scale.

MY TAKE

This is one of those comics that I feel did an absolutely brilliant job of hooking me with the first issue and since then has done a mediocre job of expanding on it. I can honestly say that the first issue has one of the most memorable scenes I have ever read in a comic book. All I’ll say is pick it up and look for hostage scene. However, not to give away any spoilers, I’ve found the following issues have failed to continue that zest of excitement. The fight scenes can be a little confusing at times and the characters have left something to be desired, however, I’m not giving up hope on it yet.

In Solar, we’re gifted with a world that either has little to no other super heroes outside of the title character. And that title character just happens to be a living nuclear battery that exhibits near limitless abilities to alter time, space and himself. It’s an extremely promising concept. And it’s that idea that is going to keep me coming back to it. That’s my opinion.

My suggestion to you dear reader is pick up the first two issues. The first one, I can easily say most people will truly enjoy. The second comic will be the one that helps you decide whether or not to keep going.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

3 Sep

Marvel is nothing if not brilliant at marketing. On a recent trip to my local comic book store, I was informed by the owner that all the first issues of Guardians of the Galaxy had sold out. But if I was interested I could get some companion comics that helped to introduce the characters. On the rack were some copies of Rocket the Raccoon and Star-Lord, before the release of the movie, these two would be considered B-list characters within the Marvel Universe but now their books are selling out.

This is genius of course because the newest Guardians of the Galaxy comics just began to be released in 2013. Long enough ahead of the movie for the purists to be able to read up on the characters and lord their knowledge of them over their non-reading friends but not too far away from the movie’s release date to turn away new readers who would want to dive in after watching the movie.

Anyway, what does that introduction have to do with anything? Basically, I’m saying that because of the recent movie, the Guardians of the Galaxy are today’s hot item and, if my comic book store’s shelves are anything to go off of, there are plenty of new people diving into the comics of Guardians of the Galaxy. And I’ll admit, I’m one of them.

So, I’m here to help you do that with me. Let’s get started.

HISTORY

It may come as a surprise to people (I know it did to me) that the current Guardians of the Galaxy team was introduced to the Marvel Universe in 2008. The original team was introduced to readers in 1969 and appeared sporadically in several different titles, including Thor and the Avengers, as a 31st Century team outside of the core Marvel Universe. The original team finally got their own self-titled in the early 1990s under writer Jim Valentino. Valentino’s writing revived a series that had fallen stagnant over the past decades and drew in a lot of fans but the series lost its popularity after Valentino left Marvel to found Image Comics. The original team’s self-title was canceled in 1995.

Fast forward to 2008 and the creation of the Guardians of the Galaxy as we know them. Writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning brought together a group of cosmic characters that had been bouncing around the Marvel Universe since the 1970s. Including Peter “Star-Lord” Quill, Rocket Raccoon, Drax, Gamora and Groot to help serve as foils in their far-reaching story arc Annihilation: Conquest. To do this they changed the setting of the story from the 31st Century to our current time to help tie into the Marvel Universe proper and voilà! The modern Guardians were born.

HOW TO GET STARTED

Here, I’m going to introduce you to what you need to get into the 2008-2010 comics, mostly because that’s what the movie used for inspiration and that’s what I’m guessing most people will want to read. Also, it’s what I’m reading right now so it’s what I can speak to. There’s also a 2013 series, as I mentioned earlier, but I haven’t started that yet.

To get into the 2008 series I highly suggest reading the Annihilation: Conquest story arc, which Abnett and Lanning used as a launch platform for the 2008 series. Annihilation: Conquest is in itself a sequel to the Annihilation story arc so if you really feel like diving in you can also start with that, which will help give you some back story on some of the title characters such as Nova along with the enemies, the Kree Army. But, it’s not necessary.

If you plan on jumping into the comics without read Annihilation then you’re going to be rather confused as the series assumes you’ve already read the Annihilation titles and doesn’t really do a good job of backing up and explaining how the characters met each other, why the Nova Corps are suddenly defunct or why the Guardians are even assembled for that matter.

ACCESSIBILITY

With the 2008 Guardians you’re getting a rare chance to jump into a series from the get go, and more rarely, one that doesn’t assume the readers knows everything about the characters. Unlike core characters like Iron Man, The Hulk or Thor, the characters we meet in Guardians are mostly B-list or even C-list characters and as such the writers are aware that people new to the game are not going to know all there is to know about them simply because they’ve been around since the 1970s. True, the prelude to the series in Annihilation does assume we know about the villains and some of the title characters, in this case we’re using that as an introduction piece and so by the time you make it to the actual Guardians comics you should be well-versed enough to not have any trouble understanding the story lines and characters.

On the accessibility meter I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Anyway, there you have it. Hope you’ve enjoyed the read and that I’ve been helpful. Cheers.

Welcome Back!

29 Aug

Hello there everyone. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted to this page. Over a year in-fact. During that time, I’ve been busy graduating from college, job searching, moving to Nebraska for work, moving to Kentucky for another job and moving my girlfriend in with me. During that time, I’ve been distracted from posting about my hobbies and been forced to focus more on my professional website and portfolio. But I can finally say that I am ready to start this blog back up.

During the time I’ve been away, I’ve had some time to think about what I want this blog to be. When I first started it, I was just getting into the comic book community. I’m still new. But I’m not as new as I was. And because of that, I find myself in an interesting situation. I realize that getting into comic books is not nearly as difficult as it appears to be from the outside. I also realize that there are still plenty of tips that new people to the genre can use. So, here’s what I’m thinking: if you visit this blog, you’re going to find a couple of things. 1) reviews of the different series I’m reading and where I think is a good place for you to start. 2) being in the media gives me a certain ability to get to some prominent people that may not be possible for others, so I’m hoping to (sometime in the future) start posting some content that deal with the “celebrity” side of comic books and other cool things.

To give you a preview, my next post is going to deal with getting started with Guardians of the Galaxy. Why GotG? Because, they just made a movie about it, so I know I can get lots of page views (I know, I’m shameless) and also I know a lot of people are going to looking to read the source material and hopefully I can help with that a bit.

Anyway, there it is. If you’re new to my page. Welcome! If you’re a follower and returning, welcome back! And I’m happy to be back.

COMING NEXT POST: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

Tips, Reviews and News

24 Mar

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Welcome back my friends! I’m alive! So, firstly, let me just state that I know it has been awhile since the last post so please forgive me for that. I’ve been working my butt off job searching and working on some class projects, but to make it up to you this post is going to have multiple parts and be a bit longer than normal. So, let’s get started shall we?

Tips from the Pros

Last weekend, I got a chance to go to the Lexington Comic Book and Toy Con in Lexington, Ky. While I was there, not only did I do some shopping around for comic books and get my picture taken with some celebrities, I also asked some independent comic book creators and comic book collectors what they would suggest to people who are attempting to get into the hobby. Here is the most common answer I got:

– Don’t follow a series. Follow a writer. Here are just a couple: Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Brian Michael Bendis, Geoff Johns, and Scott Snyder

I heard this from almost everyone I asked.

And, I can understand that. When looking at how long series can last, Amazing Spider-Man lasted for 50 years, it’s difficult to imagine how many writers a series must go through. Because of the changing in writers, there is obviously going to be some ebb and flow in terms of quality when it comes to the stories in a series.

So, let’s say you’re a fan of Amazing Spider-Man, by following the best writers of the series you’ll be able to see which issues volumes and issues you’d be most interested in.

Along with that, you’ll also be able to find some other series or books that you might enjoy. For example: Geoff Johns, the current writer for Aqua Man, previously worked on the Green Lantern series.

Now, before I move onto the next part of this post, I just want to say thanks to Dustin Carson, the creator of the independent comic book series “No Gods” for talking with me while I was at the Con. You can get more info about his comic by emailing nogodscomic@yahoo.com.

You may not have liked the movie, but this is one of the best graphic novels of all time.

You may not have liked the movie, but this is one of the best graphic novels of all time.

Reviews

-Hawkeye (2012-Present)

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Modeled after the Hawkeye we met in the popular Joss Whedon Avengers movie, this comic book written by Matt Fraction with art by David Aja is one of my new favorites.

Hawkeye is a unique character in the world of superheros. He’s a damageable person with no super powers. In fact, our first introduction to the character is him falling out of a window and into a weeks long hospital stay.

Fraction has done an excellent job, in my opinion, of making the character a relatable semi anti-hero. When different languages are spoken, we don’t get translations, we get a speech bubble that simple says “Russian” or “Maybe Italian”.

Besides this, the stories are pretty good. All of the issues I have read so far have been self contained issues, lacking a large overarching story, but I find this to be a nice break from my so far 6 issue long Batman story arc. The writing is good and while there may be no overreaching plot, each issue has been extremely enjoyable in terms of plot.

The art is also quite good. Taking a minimilast approach to the drawings, the art definitely differentiates itself compared to the more detailed panels seen in a lot of newer comics.

I highly suggest giving this comic a look and buy.

Aquaman– (2011-Present)

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Now, I know what you’re thinking. Aquaman, the joke of the super hero community. Not anymore. This Aquaman is strong, smart and very much aware of the jokes made about him.

Author Geoff Jones has done a great job introducing our thoughts about Aquaman into this comic book’s universe and helps to dispel those ideas within the first two pages of the first issue.

This is an Aquaman that eats at seafood restaurants, takes bullets to the face with barely a scratch, and has the jumping ability of a young Superman.

Since this is a New 52 comic, you don’t really need to know much about Aquaman going into this comic. This is a brand new start for the King of the Seven Seas and from the issues I’ve read, there seems to be some fun foreshadowing involved with that.

As for the art in this title, I think it’s beautiful. Strongly relying on contrast colors, the panels pop and really help to bring out the action sequences.

Again, I highly suggest this comic and will say it’s definitely worth a buy.

Civil War (2006-2007)

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One of the biggest events in the Marvel Universe definitely deserves a look into. While the series itself focuses around seven main comics, I would suggest using Marvel’s digital comic app to help guide you through this event due to the huge amount of tie-ins.

I personally have quite enjoyed the Spiderman story that helps to set the scene for the upcoming battles in the series. But, following the tie-ins will definitely cost you more money and I’m not going to be the one to tell you to spend a lot.

While this series may be a bit old, I definitely think it’s worth checking out. It’s epic in scale and the writing behind it is pretty good and deals with some of the issues that you might be familiar with thanks to the Watchmen movie. In essence, who controls the superheroes?

So, I suggest checking it out.

News

Just a quick update, I’m going to be adding a new page to the blog for stuff that doesn’t deal with comic books, but that I still think is fun, enjoyable or interesting. So, keep an eye out for the “Cool Stuff” page. I’m excited to say that the first thing going up on it will be my interview with famous creature actor, Doug Jones. So please, do check that out.

And, as always, if you like the blog, be sure to share it with you friends and to leave some comments letting me know how I can improve or if you just want to suggest some new titles or post ideas. I’m always looking for ways to improve.

Later friends.

Series vs. Story Arc

10 Mar

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Welcome back my new comic book readers! 

In my previous post I made mention of the difference between reading a series and reading a story arc. Well, now, I’ll go a bit further into depth with that idea. After this post, I think I’ll start delving more into depth with specific writers, series, story arcs, etc.

But again, I started this blog for those who are interested in getting into comics for the first time and from my own experience, this is one of the most important things that I’ve been dealing with. 

When it comes to deciding whether to read a series or a story arc, I’ve decided to go about it by doing both at the same time. On the DC side, I’ve been using the New 52 as a way to start a series from the beginning. On the Marvel side, I’ve decided to start my reading with the story arc Civil War. So, what are the pros and cons of each? And which should you choose to do? 

Series

What a series is, that’s pretty basic. It’s the entire catalog of a comic book. For example: The Avengers. All of the Avengers titles fall under the Avengers series umbrella. Different series are split into different volumes. For example, Spiderman: Vol. 2. means that the series has been restarted from the beginning. So, if you want to start Spider-Man from the beginning but don’t want to go all the way back to 1962 to do so, simply look for the newest volume and start with the number one issue of that volume. 

So far, I’ve started two series from the beginning: Batman and the Green Lantern. Both DC titles underwent a series relaunch with the release of the New 52 and I’ve taken the advantage to jump in from the beginning. 

In the New 52’s case, not all of the titles were completely rebooted. For example, Batman’s origin story remains the same, sidekicks such as Night Wing and Batgirl are already present and the history of some villans such as the Joker have remained unchanged. Other titles have had serious changes done to their history. 

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I don’t get a new origin story. Why? Because I’m the damn Batman, that’s why.

Each time a new volume is created for a comic book things like this are done. Little or major changes are made. Depending on where you want to dive into the story line of a comic book character will determine which volume of that comic you pick. 

Story Arc (Event)

I’ve also seen story arcs called “Events” but for the purposes of this article I’m going to call them story arcs since that’s what they’re labeled as under the Marvel and DC electronic comic book store.

A story arc is exactly what it sounds like, a continuing story that carries through multiple comic books for example, Batman: Knight Fall and Marvel’s Civil War. 

Knight Fall would be an example of a title wide story arc, affecting characters within the Batman family. Marvel’s Civil War is an example of a universe wide story arc, affecting almost every major character in Marvel’s universe. 

Starting a new story arc will not give you any backstory on a character and could cause you to get a bit confused if you aren’t familiar with the history of the characters. Because of this, I have no idea how Peter Parker got hooked up with Tony Stark or why Stark built a new Spiderman suit for Peter. 

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I’m not sure how this happened. But it looks awesome.

So which should I choose?

In my humble opinion, if you’re new to comic books, start with the beginning of a series. Find the number one issue of a volume and dive in.

While I am not having a huge issue reading Civil War, I do find it annoying that I have no backstory or history to help me along, unless I want to dig through Wikipedia articles.

Not only am I getting the backstory, but story arcs often take place over many different titles. For Civil War, I’m buying comics from Spiderman, Iron Man, the Avengers, Captain America, etc.

While doing this does give me a nice look at different characters that I may be interested in, it also means that I have to catch up with other backstories and I don’t get to explore the in-depth stories and characterization that I get from one series at a time. 

Hopefully, this has been helpful to you. Please, leave some comments and let me know how you think I’m doing with this blog so far and what you as a reader would like to see. And please, if you like the blog, let your friends know and help get the word out.

Also, I’ll be heading to the Lexington Comic and Toy Con this upcoming weekend and I’ll plan to have some updates from there and will hopefully be able to get some interviews down there for all of you to enjoy. 

Until then, let your nerd flag fly my friends. 

Voice Actors doing Star Wars

4 Mar

So, this is not about comic books.  But it’s simply too awesome not to share. Here’s a link to a Nerdist.com post with a video of some all star voice actors doing a live reading of Star Wars!

Included in the cast is Billy West (Doug from Doug, Fry from Futurama and tons of other characters), John DiMagio (Bender in Futurama), Tara Strong (Bubbles from Power Puff Girls),  and Rob Paulson (Pinky from Pinky and the Brain).

It’s simply awesome and I suggest you free up an hour to watch it.  Sorry there’s no pictures on this post, but I’m doing this from my phone. So, tough I guess.

Let your nerd flag fly!

Let’s Get Started

2 Mar

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So, after some long deliberation, I’ve finally decided what I want to be the first true post to Comic Book Newbie. But first, a little bit of news.

I reached out to one of my friends who I know is also into comic books and he helped to hook me up with some buddies of his that actually do professional reviews of comic books. I’m excited to say that they are interested in helping me out with this blog and maybe I can eventually talk them into writing some stuff on here. But, I don’t want to name drop or anything so, we’ll just see where that goes. Now, on with the show.

I really did put a lot of thought into what I wanted to be the first post. Should I start with a comic review? Should I tell you about the New 52 relaunch from DC? Finally, I realized that this blog is meant to be for beginners, and so, I simply decided to go with what I was learning and that is the extreme basics. Where to get comics and which ones to get.

The obvious answer to the question “where do I find comics?” is the comic book store. However, if you’re anything like me, you either have no comic book store close to you or you don’t know where that store is. It’s because of this that I started looking into digital comic books. Now, my day job is as a photographer at a newspaper, so I’ll always support print over digital. But, for the purposes of getting into comic books I honestly think digital is the way to go.

I’ve downloaded onto my phone the apps for the three major publishers: Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse. All of these apps are available for both Android and iOS systems and they’re free to download. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can simply read them off of your computer.

Dark Horse is the place to go to find Star Wars comics.

Dark Horse is the place to go to find Star Wars and Hellboy comics.

These apps are really helpful to newcomers in several ways. For one, all of them have a similar system to help guide you through the story line. For example, let’s say you purchase an edition of the Avengers. After you’ve reached the end of your comic you’ll get a prompt telling you what the next book in the series is. I found this to be very helpful. Especially when it comes to reading story arcs, something I’ll address on my next post, where characters tend to criss cross between different titles.

Another good thing about these digital comics is the price. Just doing a quick Amazon search can help give you the idea of prices when it comes to print comic books. You’re looking at prices that range anywhere from 3-5 dollars depending on the character and the availability of the issue.

All that webbing gets expensive.

All that webbing gets expensive.

Alternatively, you’ll be hard pressed to find a digital copy over $2. To me, this is one of the biggest selling points of using digital comics to get started. If for some reason you decide that a character or comic books themselves just aren’t for you you’re out less money. This gives you more freedom to be adventurous with titles and gives you more of a chance to buy multiple titles at a time.

Now, I’ve talked to a couple of friends about digital comics before and they expressed some hesitation about reading digital comics. Obviously, it’s not the same as reading the real thing. But, I have to give the developers of these apps some credit, they make it enjoyable. When on a smart phone or tablet, you’re given the chance to see the entire page, zoom in, and read in “zoomed view”. Zoomed view moves you through the comic one panel at a time, and almost gives the comic a movie quality. Zooming in to writer and artist credits, only to zoom out to reveal a large landscape-panel. To give you an example, here’s a video reviewing an Android comic reader. Warning: That Evanescence song is on this video, so get your mute button ready if you don’t like it. 

So, there ya go. I hope this has been helpful on getting your comic book reading off the ground. Please, let me know what you think of the post and how I can improve them in the future. Until then, let your nerd flag fly!