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Valiant’s Comixology Ads: Easily My Favorite Ads at Present

valiantpastandpresentadsI typically ignore ads in comics as much as I can, finding that more often than not they’re just not relevant or interesting to me. Sometimes an ad will really stick out to me, though–such as the ad for the Deadpool Corps series a few years back with the “Deadpool Corps Oath.” I’ve also posted before about quite liking the way Valiant was doing its back-cover house-ads; though the last few months they’ve shifted to a full-cover ad for Unity and such, with a two-page spread inside to advertise a month’s books.

I’ve also noticed–pretty much since the Valiant launch back in May 2012–the recurring Comixology ads in the various books. The ads are pretty much the same, except for the showcased covers. For each title, the ad changes to show the first issue of the original ’90s valiant series next to the (non-variant) cover of the first issue in the current series.

I’ve found myself enjoying these ads, and the sense of history they impart. If you’re a fan of the classic books “trying” the current stuff, they show that the classic stuff is available simply, through Comixology. If you’re just a fan of the current stuff, it shows what the original cover was, and offers a “way in” if you want to check out the original take on the character(s). Plus, to me, there’s just something about seeing the two covers next to each other that I like in each ad. (Though it also drives home my frustration at the abundance of variant covers from the current Valiant and solidifies my preference for the “standard” or “iconic” cover of a given book).

These also remind me THAT so much classic Valiant is now available digitally, and will certainly facilitate some of my reading soon, as I’m likely to grab the digital editions of early issues rather than wait til I can find the print editions (for stuff like Harbinger, X-O Manowar, and Rai in particular). It’s already allowed me to read what I believe is the entirety of the original Quantum and Woody stuff.

Anyway, as recurring ads go, or quasi “house” ads, these have gotta be my favorite since the various Superman house ads in the ’90s in the DC books.

valiantpastandpresentad_xomanowar

valiantpastandpresentad_harbinger

valiantpastandpresentad_bloodshot

valiantpastandpresentad_archerandarmstrong

valiantpastandpresentad_shadowman

valiantpastandpresentad_quantumandwoody

valiantpastandpresentad_eternalwarrior

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Shadowman #12 [Review]

shadowman012Deadside Blues; Lucky Charm; Blackout

Writers: Ales Kot, Christopher Sebela, Duffy Boudreau
Art: Cafu, Matthew Southworth, Diego Bernard, Alejandro Sicat
Colors: Andy Troy, Jose Villarrubia, Ian Hannin
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover Art: Dave Johnson and Kekai Kotaki
Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I’ve kinda lost the “flow” of this Shadowman title. Seems we’ve had a definite interruption of the ongoing story: a #0 issue, a “Halloween special,” and now this 3-complete-stories issue, as we await a new creative team that’s taking over.

While I’m all about done-in-one stories, self-contained issues, having 3 such stories in one regular-sized issue is a bit much (or short, depending on how one looks at it). These three seem rather slice-of-life; the simple stuff that’s not that big a challenge. They can’t be a big challenge–there’re only a handful of pages to get to the end of the situation as presented!

Given three stories, I’m not bothered by three visual styles in the issue. None of ’em particularly blew me away, but none struck me as annoying or hard to follow. Solid art doing what the art should do.

The stories themselves are a handful of pages apiece. Nothing particularly wrong with any of them–they all offer a touch of insight into Shadowman. They definitely make this feel like a “filler” issue…I’d’ve much rathered see these presented in place of multi-page “previews” in the back of Valiant‘s books. Original COMPLETE shorts to introduce non-readers of Shadowman to the character, and provide some incentive to Shadowman readers to maybe grab another issue. (Easy enough to suggest as a fan currently buying any/all Valiant singles).

Taken as a whole, I found the issue fairly mediocre. Not bad, but not wonderful; for the moment nothing in it seems particularly germane to anything ongoing. If you’re following the series and not inclined to skip issues, this is worth getting and reading. Though it stands alone in and of itself, readers would likely benefit quite a bit with context from having read earlier issues. If you’re looking for a jumping-in point, it seems the next issue will be the spot to do so.

If I wasn’t currently “all-in” on the Valiant books…I’m pretty sure I’d call it a day for now on the series, myself. As-is, I’m hoping this new creative team picks things up and runs next issue and shows me that I actively want to keep up with this title rather than passively “not drop” it.

Thoughts on Issues First Week of October

QUANTUM AND WOODY #4

quantumandwoody004I’m continuing to quite enjoy this series. I’ve been reading through the original series digitally, and other than consciously noting that they’re different, for what I’m getting of the reading experience of both: this new iteration fits right into the spirit of the original. Even the slightly modified relationship between Eric and Woody works well and does nothing to diminish their interactions…if anything, it adds depth. Despite all the hubbub earlier and the promotional posters, here in THIS issue we finally meet “the goat,” and quickly see why this is the most awesome goat in comics. I’m pretty sure my high enjoyment of the Goat is knowing it to be a running gag from the original series combined with the “hype” from even before I’d read any of the originals. I look forward to seeing both the continuing development of the main characters, as well as how the goat is handled in this iteration long-term/moving forward. This issue wraps up the first arc…if you’ve not read any so far, it’ll definitely be worth picking up the collected volume.

SHADOWMAN #11

shadowman011Of all the Valiant titles, this is certainly the best one TO have a Halloween Special. That it’s another issue of the main title and not some extra issue (say, a $4.99 one-shot with a couple of sketch pages making up the $1 difference from the price of a regular issue) is a huge “plus” for me. The story itself didn’t interest me all that much, yet as a slice-of-life piece, I liked it; it’s the sort of thing I often like to see…so I can’t quite figure out why it didn’t have the expected appeal. The art was good; no complaints from me there. This is a self-contained issue…and Valiant offers a “previously” blurb on the inside cover, so really, you don’t need to have read anything before this to pick it up and “sample” the Shadowman title. Not my favorite issue, but not every issue CAN be. This is still a decent read and I’ll be continuing to keep up with the title.

FOREVER EVIL #2

foreverevil002With all the “hype” around the first issue and what it COULD mean for Dick Grayson/Nightwing, as well as buying several of the 3-D covers and figuring context wouldn’t hurt, I bought the first issue, and it wasn’t all that bad…I figured even though I had no intention of following Villains Month into any individual titles, I’d go ahead and check out the next issue of Forever Evil…and here it is. I did. There’s potential…but I have no intention of buying all the tie-ins: whether individual titles’ issues OR specific tie-in minis, and this reeks of Infinite Crisis to me where the main issues might advance things a bit, but also serve as ‘setup’ for many of the tie-ins (which will have the “meat” of the event). I’m not interested enough by this issue to plan on continuing on with the series. Perhaps if it gets good word of mouth from others I’ll jump back in…otherwise, I think I’m pretty much done with this.

BATMAN: BLACK AND WHITE #2

batmanblackandwhite002Normally I’d balk at the $4.99 cover price, especially for “only” a mini-series…and I’d wait for the collected volume. After all, mini-series = short, finite story = better in one go as a single-volume. However, this is an anthology, and each issue is already several shorter stories…and for me that would get a bit grating after awhile, having a thick edition where every several pages begins a new story. So I’m enjoying this format, and getting some nice, short one-off bits dealing with Batman and his cast, by a number of creators with varying name-recognition for me. If this were an ongoing series, I doubt I’d have as much interest in it–I’d wait for others’ reviews and general word-of-mouth as to anything particularly “amazing” to be found in a given issue. But while nothing really stands out to me from this issue, I enjoyed it, and compared to many comics felt I got a good read for my money.

Valiant: Coming in August

I don’t like variant covers, I don’t like 5-5+ page “previews” of other comics in the backs of my books, I don’t like $3.99 as a price point, and I don’t like “clumping” or “clustering” of books.

But I’ve stuck with Valiant for over a year now, and despite some practices I don’t like, they do a lot right.

And one of the things I really like is that the backs of their comics keep me apprised as to what’s coming out when, showing cover imagery for the next month’s books.

I find this to be a rather attractive design, and as a person who is presently maintaining a pull list that includes “all Valiant single-issues,” informative. When–across the prior month–I see these images regularly, I know what I’m looking for when the issues DO come out, and there’s a certain familiarity that I like.

Though these can be a bit spoilery (at least in who’s gonna show up or survive), that familiarity means when I get to a new issue, the cover’s not a surprise, but I don’t have to have read solicitation text for it, either. And sometimes I find myself guessing at what’s going to be going on in an issue or otherwise just looking forward to it because of the cover imagery.

valiant-coming-in-august

For example, that Bloodshot image looks very interesting, I like the coloring, and I’ve got time between these back covers and the inserted checklists that’ve been coming with some issues (whether packed that way or the comic shop tucking them in, I’m not sure) to come to really associate that Bloodshot image with the #0 issue, which goes a way toward making it somewhat “iconic” without being some chromium/foil-enhanced anything.

I also find myself quite amused lately at the Archer & Armstrong covers, as they seem to carry a certain sort of “humor” to them, given what we know of the characters, and that alone adds a little extra something to the title. Seeing the image so small, I look forward to the “full size” cover, and it keeps me wondering just how literal the cover may be–will that scene be in the book, or is it just drawn as a parallel to the book’s story?

And frankly, these collages “do” a lot more for me than any other ad on the back of a comic; sure, they’re not getting the outside advertising dollars for this house ad, but they gain a bit of good will from me as a reader, and set themselves apart from being “just” another Marvel or DC.

Shadowman #7 [Review]

Shadowman (2012) #7 [cover]Writer: Justin Jordan
Pencils: Neil Edwards
Inks: Matt Ryan
Color Art: Brian Reber
Covers: Patrick Zircher, Dave Johnson, Matthew Waite
Letters: Rob Steen
Editor: Jody LeHeup
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I feel kind of like I missed an issue. Without going back to re-read the series-thus-far, I vaguely remember where the story left off before last month’s #0 issue, but jumping into this issue I found myself wondering if I truly remembered, or had a slight bit of deja vu from reading the catch-up text on the inside cover.

We find Shadowman and his compatriots facing Baron Samedi, and ultimately coming to a sort of “understanding” in their mutual goal of preventing Darque from crossing from the Deadside in to the “real world.” As the deal unfolds, not everyone is on the same page, and one of our heroes seems to make a bit of a mistake that looks like it’s going to cost the group next issue.

If my summary is brief and vague…there’s something about this series, where it’s one I’m enjoying…but it’s a sort of enjoy-as-I-read-it more than it is remembering-after-I’ve-read-it. As it is with much of what I read these days. I read an issue, and that’s fine, but it doesn’t stick with me much beyond the reading, until/unless I delve back in to construct a better summary for a review…but then I may be over-analyzing, and going back in to pick things apart isn’t “just” the “reading experience” of buying an issue and reading it and planning to continue with the next issue.

As said, I’m enjoying this series in and of itself. The art’s good–I’ve no trouble following what’s going on, there’s no over-fancy or complicated page layouts or funky, stylistic stuff to distract…it’s just good art conveying the story.

And the story itself continues to build on itself–we have the growing threat of Darque, continue to see the characters feel each other out and develop as a group: the duo already familiar with each other before Shadowman was with them, and the Shadowman himself, Jack, who is dealing with his new status quo and with being a new/outsider-y member of the “group” and all that.

As a continuing reader of the series, this is another solid issue. I’m not as “into” this title as say, X-O Manowar or Harbinger…but this is still a welcome part of my Valiant purchasing, and I don’t plan to leave it behind anytime in the near future.

Catching up with Valiant: Archer & Armstrong #0 and Shadowman #0

Archer & Armstrong #0

archerandarmstrong000Gilgamesh as told via Armstrong to Archer. Not a bad premise, given Archer’s virtual immortality, and Archer continuing to learn the “real” world after living the “sheltered” existence he had up to the beginning of this series. Though this is a #0 issue, this story fits in the ongoing continuity, as A&A have been through stuff together already, and are now having some downtime before their next adventure.

The art’s the usual enjoyable quality, mixing with a solid story for an enjoyable issue. This could easily have simply been #10 of the series, as a flashback issue…but given the original Valiant‘s penchant for #0 issues (and that in retrospect, 1993’s X-O Manowar #0 is one of the most iconic single issues I recall from my youth) I think it’s kinda fun having these zero-issues for the current Valiant books.

Even if you’re not following the series in general, if you know the basic concept–Armstrong’s immortal, Archer just escaped a cult and is adjusting to the world around him with Armstrong as his truest friend–this is a nice one-shot story that delves into Armstrong’s past, telling a tale that leads into a scene we saw back in #1 and sheds light on Armstrong as well as the Eternal Warrior.

Shadowman #0

shadowman000This was a rather dark (yet illuminating) issue, providing us with an origin story for Darque. We see his birth and that of his sister, as well as how the children grew up, and the events that led to him becoming what he is, and the character becomes slightly sympathetic in that he’s not JUST some two-dimensional baddie. Sucks what he went through, but there’s a motivation there that one can “understand” a bit.

The art fit the story, and the story fits continuity. While the Archer & Armstrong issue was sort of a flashback issue where we still saw the contemporary title characters, this is a Darque story, and we don’t actually see Shadowman. Which makes this a fine #0 issue–we get backstory on the main villain of the piece, which takes place long before the series, hence a #0 issue (takes place before the events of #1) and as a #0 issue it’s functionally its own thing and doesn’t take away from the ongoing narrative and throughline of the ongoing numbering.

 

Shadowman #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

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