“Taking Care of Business”: 40% Off West Coast Avengers!

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You can pre-order the upcoming West Coast Avengers omnibus for just £45.00 – a saving of 40% off the RRP of £75!

The offer ends on Wednesday 7th November, and all you have to do is head over to Forbidden Planet International. The offer only applies to the cover by Al Milgrom; the Greg Land cover is available for £50.25, which is what the Milgrom cover is expected to rise to in just over a week’s time.

Here’s the blurb:

“Earth’s Mightiest Heroes head west! Hawkeye splits from the Avengers and sets up shop in California. But the newly recruited members of Avengers ‘franchise’ – including Tigra, Wonder Man, Mockingbird and a new Iron Man – soon find themselves in over their heads! Meanwhile, Ultron and the Grim Reaper target Wonder Man’s “brother,” the Vision – and the Vision’s wife, the Scarlet Witch! Can the West Coasters keep this complex bloodline from getting bloodier? Plus: Both Avengers teams are betrayed from within! Also guest-starring the the Thing, Hank Pym, Firebird and Nick Fury!

Collecting West Coast Avengers (1984) issues #1 to 4, Iron Man Annual #7, Avengers (1963) #250, West Coast Avengers (1985) #1 to 16, Vision And The Scarlet Witch (1985) #1 and 2, Avengers Annual (1967) #15, West Coast Avengers Annual #1, and material from Avengers (1963) #239, #243 and 244 and #246, and Avengers West Coast #100; written by Roger Stern, Bob Harras, Steve Englehart and Danny Fingeroth, and pencilled by Bob Hall, Luke Mcdonnell, Al Milgrom, Richard Howell, Steve Ditko and Mark Bright.”

The 760-page HC will be release in April 2013. You can read more about the West Coast Avengers here.

And thanks to Ruben and Nicolas; I really appreciate you both reading. Please let me know if something else slips under the net!

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Review: Ultimate Avengers By Mark Millar Omnibus

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Mark Millar is a controversial figure.

No one can doubt what he’s given to comics and, indeed, films. He changed the Marvel landscape with Civil War, gave us London’s Kapow! convention, and launched CLiNT magazine. Oh, and supplied us with possibly the most violent and swear-ridden comic known to man.

It’s been ten years now since the critically-acclaimed Ultimates hit the shelves, introducing warped versions of the familiar MU Avengers. And in Mark Millar’s latest omnibus collection, we’re introduced to warped versions of the warped versions.

Ultimate Avengers By Mark Millar Omnibus collects the first three volumes of the titular comic book (each comprising of six issues) and Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates #1-6 in a beautiful white and gold/green exterior that won’t break your wrist unlike some other omnibuses. And with an RRP of £55.99, it’s pretty reasonably priced, considering that you can typically get a copy for about £35. As ever with the omnibus range, it’s wonderfully presented, with nice glossy finishes, a stand-out, white spine and a few ‘special features’ at the back, like variant covers, sketchbooks and cover ideas; it’s fleeting, but a welcome addition.

It begins three weeks after Ultimatum, an event generally considered as bad as comics get, and immediately sets up the premise of the whole book, even though this won’t become apparent until quite a way in. This first arc ushers in the return of Carlos Pacheco (Avengers Forever; Fantastic Four) to Marvel, and his stunning art echoes the widescreen-work of original Ultimates illustrator, Bryan Hitch. He’s a perfect choice for the book, and, coupled with colourist, Justin Ponsor and a plethora of inkers, gives the volume a fresh and exciting feel. The spreads and flowing layouts really help its pace, which has the feel of a blockbuster movie to it. And this is something Millar is often criticised for.

Ultimate Nick Fury sets out his agenda

I can see it both ways. Yes, comics are a medium of their own right; a medium that doesn’t have to be defined by or likened to others, particularly films. This is the reason Alan Moore doesn’t like to see V for Vendetta and Watchmen on the big screen. However, I also feel that as long as it sparks the imagination, it doesn’t really matter.

We also have to remember that many will be flocking to comics after seeing the big-hitters like Avengers Assemble and The Amazing Spider-Man in cinemas and on DVD, so these ‘widescreen,’ sweeping techniques are well suited as an introduction to the medium. As long as the characters are well-written, the dialogue is snappy, and the plot is interesting and relevant, does it really matter if an issue or storyline has the feel of a movie?

The Ultimate origin of the Red Skull…

And maybe this is an issue with Millar’s Ultimate Avengers. While much of the dialogue is good – “[Spider-Man] can drive a man to suicide in three or four exchanges,” someone remarks – and the characters involving, not all of them are particularly likeable. And this is surely a big problem with heroes you’re supposed to be rooting for. Indeed, some of the pointless deaths that occur hardly make an impact. Captain America and Hawkeye remain the most likeable, especially as the former is the personification of a one-man army, but many of the others are just there as replacements for the original Ultimates line-up. There’s a new Black Widow, a new Hulk (or two), and a new Iron Man (sort of) – and only the latter is remotely successful. In fact, I really hate what Millar’s done with the Hulk: the ‘original’ Hulk is a useless addition, while the ‘Nerd’ Hulk is ridiculous.

‘Nerd’ Hulk vs… Iron Man?

Oh, and in case that wasn’t enough, there’s a new Captain America too. Even though the original’s still there, on the whole. And this new Captain is… uh, the Punisher. Maybe this is why the deaths are meaningless: you know another replacement will be along any minute.

The low point for the team comes in volume two, where they’re overshadowed by an amazing Ghost Rider, awesomely drawn by Leinil Francis Yu (Secret Invasion; Wolverine), as he goes up against Blackthorn. (In fact, his Ghost Rider might be the best rendition I’ve seen!) It’s not that strong a story, mainly due to a ragtag team of Avengers who you know won’t gel. With the original Avengers and Ultimates, there were many arguments and fisticuffs, but you just knew that, in the end, Captain America, Iron Man and Thor would get along. But here, there’s too little chemistry and heart.

Ultimate Ghost Rider. Wow.

However, this isn’t a terrible omnibus, as many expected. Actually there’s a lot to enjoy.

As previously stated, Captain America really kicks butt, particularly in the first arc, which heralds in the first and only appearance of the Ultimate Universe’s Red Skull. The twist on his origin isn’t that surprising, but it’s still pretty cool, and suitably gruesome. The death of Nikolai Laskov is particularly horrible – so naturally, there’s some mindless violence lingering on from Kick-Ass.

The third arc riffs off the huge vampire trend of late, something which Millar has come under criticism for. But it’s actually a great move. Keeping up with trends, and predicting the next ones, will always draw readers in, and it’s something that Marvel – and, indeed, every noteworthy company – has always done. Plus there’s a fantastic Twilight parody.

 I was initially sceptical of Steve Dillon’s artistic contributions to the storyline that introduces us to Blade, but, actually, it’s very fitting. But Leinil Yu makes a welcome return in the final storyline, which pits the Ultimates against the Avengers. There are plenty of surprises throughout, but especially in this concluding tale, which starts off really strong. The addition of Spider-Man seems forced – as the Punisher aptly notes, “where the %&*# did HE come from?!” – but Frank’s guilt is great.

The ‘Hulked-out’ heroes in Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates #5 is a bit too silly for my liking, but generally, Millar’s conclusions are really strong. The finale to the third arc is very visual and cinematic – clever too – as is the way the Red Skull is dealt with in the first storyline.

Yes, there are plenty of clichés thrown about, and character depth isn’t at its most fascinating, but there’s still a lot to enjoy here. Well worth thirty-odd quid.

If you want to see Mark Millar at his best, pick up The Ultimates. But if you want him in his “not-at-his-best-but-still-much-better-than-most” mode, order Ultimate Avengers now.

“Wake the beast”: 40% off Secret Warriors!

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You can get the Secret Warriors for just £45, a 40% saving off its £75 RRP.

The 904-page omnibus is due for release in July 2012, and collects Mighty Avengers #13 and 18; Secret Warriors #1-28; Dark Reign: The List – Secret Warriors; Siege: Secret Warriors; and material from Dark Reign: New Nation.

You can save £30 if you get to forbiddenplanet.co.uk before Wednesday 15th February.

The book is written by Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman, with art by Alex Maleev, Stefano Caselli, Alessandro Vitti, Mirko Colak, Ed McGuinness, Gianluca Gugliotta and David Marquez. The cover is provided by Jim Cheung.

Daisy Johnson: Quake.

While forbiddenplanet.com doesn’t even have it listed, Amazon.co.uk has it for a pre-order price of £47.47.

I expect the omnibus to go up to £50.25 on fp.co.uk once the offer ends, so it’s worth pre-ordering now – or getting it from Amazon if you miss the discount!

Secret Warriors available for pre-order!

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Forbidden Planet.co.uk has just made the Secret Warriors omnibus available for pre-order.

Though the book has an RRP of £75, you can buy it from fp.co.uk for just £49.01.

Amazon.co.uk also has the 904-page HC for £49.01. Which is pretty wierd.

My advice would be to wait maybe just for a week, as fp.co.uk normally offer these £75 books with a 40% discount for two weeks only – bringing it down to £45 – as part of their ‘STOP THE PRESS!’ offer. I reckon next week’s graphic novel newsletter wil include the deal, as the latest one was for The Incredible Hulk: Past Perfect – which looks really cool!

Here’s the synopsis for the Secret Warriors omnibus:

Former S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury and his newly minted team of Secret Warriors uncover a conspiracy that reaches from the Oval Office to Japan — and even beyond death. When a shadow war breaks out between Leviathan and Hydra, it’s up to Fury and his Warriors to take them both out.

The reconstituted Howling Commandos join Fury’s ranks, but tragedy waits in the wings as the conflict blossoms into an all-out war on three fronts. As Hydra and Leviathan ready for their final strikes — on each other and the world — Fury will have to make some of the grittiest life-and-death choices of his long life!

Collecting Mighty Avengers #13 and 18, Secret Warriors #1-28, Dark Reign: The List – Secret Warriors, Siege: Secret Warriors, and material from Dark Reign: New Nation. Written By Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman; and pencilled by Alex Maleev, Stefano Caselli, Alessandro Vitti, Gianluca Gugliotta, Mirko Colak, David Marquez and Ed McGuinness, with cover artwork by Jim Cheung.

The book is expected to be released in July 2012.

Avengers details revealed

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Marvel has revealed the preliminary covers to the upcoming Avengers omnibus, due for publication in February 2012. The normal cover is a recoloured version of Jack “The King” Kirby’s Avengers #01…

Art by Jack Kirby.

The variant edition will feature a cover by John Romita Jr. in homage to Kirby’s.

Art by John Romita Jr.

JRJR is my favourite artist, so I’m especially looking forward to this release, which is set to collect Avengers #01-30, by the legends that are Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Don Heck. The HC will be 728 pages, with an RRP of £75.

The Avengers omnibus is scheduled for release just before the movie of the same name… which is bound to be a massive hit, right?

Avengers Assemble!

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