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Comicscape - May 5, 2004

Comic Resources on the Web

By Tony Whitt     May 05, 2004


Earth's mightest heroes, The Avengers. (Cover to AVENGERS #83.)
© Marvel Comics

OPINION:




Wow, when y'all think I'm trying to pass the buck, you really show it! Brandon Wyatt wrote in asking if I could suggest good website featuring lists of comics released in the past few years, so I passed that question on to you, my loyal readers and no one wrote in! Tsk. Maybe it's just a dull subject I asked my fellow group members on the GLA Yahoo Group the same question, and only two responded there. Oh, well I'll give you a subject you can all sink your teeth into for next week, then. In the meantime, you'll just have to enjoy the deserts of Brandon's request (and the five minutes I spent on Google looking for this stuff nah, make that three minutes). Now, bear in mind, I don't usually refer readers to any other sites simply because I'd like to think that the CINESCAPE site can provide for all your comics needs but I'd be wrong to think so. With any luck, this list of comic resources on the Web will be helpful if you ever get a wild hair to find out exactly when the last "old" numbered copy of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN was printed. Believe it or not, it happens.



Frank Gembeck suggests that, if you're looking strictly for issue numbers and have a vague idea when those particular issues were published, it might be worth your trouble to visit the Diamond Comic Distributors Shipping List Archives. This site collects Diamond's shipping lists going all the way back to 1998, and in an easy-to-view text format, besides! Downsides to this site are that the archives are arranged by week, and that, while the search option on the Diamond website allows you to search for previously published titles, the option does not include these archives. Probably the biggest problems that comic neophytes will run into is that the shipping lists are broken down by company for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and Image only - if you're looking for something published by CrossGen, for instance, you'd best know the title and that these lists aren't always 100% accurate (as I have found much to my dismay, since these are my own main source of information for release dates). Finally, the list include only the titles there are no descriptions.



"Mike S." from the GLA list says that, if you're looking instead for listings for the entire run of a title, there are two sites that might be useful. The first of this is the Grand Comic Book Database, which has one of the most astonishingly huge databases I've ever seen. The site's current statistics indicate that the Database now features 1,929 publishers and imprints, more than 10,600 series, more than 133,900 individual books (73,900+ of which have been indexed), over a million writer/artist credits, and more than 56,000 covers (51,300 or more of which are hi-res). The main drawbacks of the Database, ironically, are the very features that can make it such a valuable resource: its all-inclusiveness and its very size. A simple search for the title AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, for instance, brings back nine different series including one in Swedish! In this case, it's helpful to know the year in which the particular volume you're searching for started, as Volume I of Spidey's series is given only as "1963" and the current volume as "1999". If this doesn't bother you, though, then clicking on the "index matrix" (very appealing name, for a DOCTOR WHO fan like me) reveals all the issues that have been indexed by volunteer contributors. Be warned, however, that just as not all issues have cover scans, not all issues have been indexed, and the ones that have may have variable data some will include the story title and credits, some will not. I was particularly disappointed that random clicking in the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN archive, for instance, revealed artist and editor credits but no writing credits or rather, the person listed as editor actually was the writer. And if you're looking for something less well-known or from an indie publisher, it's really hit or miss only two issues of LOVE AND ROCKETS are indexed with almost no information, and Adrian Tomine's OPTIC NERVE never came up at all. It's still a good place to start, though, and great if you want to simply browse the vast cornucopia that is the comics world.



"Mike S." also suggests Longbox.Com. Begun in 1998, this database features a slightly more comprehensive list with drop-down menus of listed comics and complete credits for those issues actually cataloged, that is. When these are cataloged, however, the record can include a breakdown of stories featured in that particular issue and the length of the story, which can be exceedingly helpful. They too feature cover scans for many issues. A search for LOVE AND ROCKETS here brought back records for both volumes of the series, though covers, publication dates, and credits for individual issues were virtually non-existent; and once again, there were no matches for OPTIC NERVE. (Honestly, what do people have against Tomine?)



The folks at Longbox themselves suggest not only the GCBD listed above but also the Comics Price Guide site. A search for Spidey there revealed no less than 28 different records, and covers for the entire run of Volumes I and II. Unfortunately, even though there's a space in each individual issue record for Writer and Artist credits (and these are the only credits available), these are far too rarely filled in it's not altogether helpful to know that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby worked on #1, for instance, when the site doesn't list who worked on #50. On the plus side, if you're interested in what these issues are worth, the value information is highly comprehensive, and some of the issues are available for sale either directly or via auction. Both the LOVE AND ROCKETS and OPTIC NERVE litmus tests failed here, though to their credit they did have OPTIC NERVE #1 available for sale along with a cover scan.



Longbox also suggests, oddly enough, the Unofficial Handbook of Marvel Comics Creators, which features only (you guessed it) Marvel titles. It also features what is initially one of the most confusing interfaces ever produced, but once you get past that, the individual entries aren't so bad they feature writer, artist, cover artist, story titles, and cross-references to special databases featuring story arcs and reprints. The entire database is also searchable by date, which is helpful, though both this one and the titles database list the month by number rather than name. Another plus is that it lists the more obscure Marvel titles such as Marvel UK's output and the Epic titles from the 1990s. Forget about LOVE AND ROCKETS and OPTIC NERVE, though and Superman, for that matter.



There's also the Comic Book Database, which features a surprising amount of search options including title, company, cover artist, date, issue number, story title, writer, penciller, inker, and character(s). You can also sort the resulting search results by book title, date, issue number, or company. Seemingly, the more info you have, the better a search for AMAZING SPIDER-MAN by title, with no other search criteria, brought back 352 records. Including a "1" as the criterion for "issue number" still brought back 94! Putting in a third criterion in any other category, however, caused a search failure every time. While these records don't always include everything the search criteria promise many don't have cover scans, either they can often be surprising. Strangely enough, for example, while the Spidey records didn't always list things like story title and so forth, my search for LOVE AND ROCKETS did list that information, and pretty consistently, too. Same for OPTIC NERVE, too.



I'm sure that's not all that's available out there, but finding it via the usual methods (Yahoo, Google, etc.) can be daunting much of what's listed under the rubric "comic book database" is advertising for various programs to help you create your own personal database, and at least one I found turned out to be a porno site with self-downloading adware! But if you can think of any I might have missed in this all-too-brief list, please send your suggestions along. I hope that helped, Brandon!



Now, for next week, I want to address a subject both exciting and worrisome to X-Men fans namely, the upcoming reshuffle occurring in Marvel's X-Men titles. On the plus side, we get, among other things, Joss Whedon writing the new ASTONISHING X-MEN, Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir continuing the adventures of the New Mutants in NEW X-MEN: ACADEMY X, and Chuck Austen moving off UNCANNY X-MEN. On the negative side, we get Chuck Austen moving to X-MEN (formerly NEW X-MEN since, of course, that title now refers to the New Mutants title) and Chris Claremont giving us EXCALIBUR (which makes those of us who remember the last title under that name shudder uncontrollably). I'd like to hear from those of you who are fans of the X-Universe about whether you think the "ReLoad," as it's being called, is overall a good or a bad idea; what parts you're looking forward to; and what is it you fervently wish they were not doing. Send your opinions by midnight on Saturday, May 8, via the web site contact address here or to me directly. And remember, just to make my life a bit easier, please use CAPS when giving the title of a comic series since I do the HTML coding on this column every week, having the titles in caps already is a big help. Finally, as always, don't forget our discussion boards, or your spinach, whichever comes first. Now, here's what you can look forward to on your Cinco de Mayo (and as I'm trying to learn Spanish, let's see how far I've gotten compliments and corrections greatly appreciated...):




THIS WEEK THE BILINGUAL EDITION:




For

Cover to JUSTICE LEAGUE ADVENTURES #31.

kids this week, DC presents the usual fun contained in JUSTICE LEAGUE ADVENTURES #31 for the eldest in the family and LOONEY TUNES #114 for los niños. Meanwhile, over at Marvel, todos los niños (y niñas también, claro) can enjoy MARVEL AGE: FANTASTIC FOUR #2 and MARVEL AGE: SPIDER-MAN #3

- but only if they haven't read the original stories. (¿Cómo se dice "'Nuff Said" en espagñol?)



Apparently, Kyle Baker's PLASTIC MAN series is appropriate for the little ones, too, as his five-year old daughter is said to have read the end of the first story arc and disagreed with his making the female FBI agent the bad guy so he changed it. ¡Ay caramba! Issue #6 is out this week whether Miss Baker has exercised her editorial control this time, though, I don't know...



You'll need mucho dinero to get everything that Dark Horse is putting out this week, which includes the 3X3 EYES VOL 4: BLOOD OF THE SACRED DEMON trade paperback for $13.95; the BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL VOL 7: HEART OF DARKNESS trade paperback for $16.95; BPRD: A PLAGUE OF FROGS #3; OH MY GODDESS! #108; SPYBOY: FINAL EXAM #1 (Of 4); and VAN HELSING ONE SHOT.



¡Qué vida! Look at everything the DC 100 PAGE SUPER SPECTACULAR: WORLD'S GREATEST SUPER HEROES facsimile edition gives you for $6.95: you get "Crisis on Earth-One" and "Crisis on Earth-Two" from JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #21-22, a Hawkman story from THE BRAVE & THE BOLD #34, a Spectre story from MORE FUN COMICS #55, a Johnny Quick story from ADVENTURE COMICS #190, a Vigilante story (whoever that is) from ACTION COMICS #146, and a Wildcat story from...well, somewhere or other. Es magnífico, ¿no?



Meanwhile,

Cover to SWORD OF DRACULA #4.

over at Image, we get Frank Cho's LIBERTY MEADOWS #36 (which didn't come up on any of those searches above, either), the SAVAGE DRAGON VOL 10: ENDGAME trade paperback for $15.95, and SWORD OF DRACULA #4 from el hombre principal, Jason Henderson! (Hmmm...I like "the main man" better, don't you?)



Odd...the translation site I sometimes use renders "Batman" as " ayudante personal." Somehow I don't think that's right, do you? Anyway, Tarantula and Orpheus guest-star in the first chapter of "The Rotting" in DETECTIVE COMICS #794 and no, I don't know how to say that in Spanish, either...



The six people who have come together in one body now wonder about their raison d'être in ENGINEHEAD #2 (Of 8) this week. Hey, wait a minute...



Did you fart? No? Then it must be ALPHA FLIGHT #3, which goes on sale this week. (Sorry, sorry...I can't even take credit for that one, actually, since it comes from Chicago Comics, where it was made at the expense of WEST COAST AVENGERS. Fitting, though. And no, I couldn't find "fart" in the Spanish-English dictionary. Qué cochino).



And

Cover to Y: THE LAST MAN #22.

speaking of pigs and other things that live on filth...Vertigo presents the FILTH trade paperback for $19.95 this week. (Not the best transition, but it's better than more Spanish, ¿si?) There's also SANDMAN PRESENTS THESALY WITCH FOR HIRE #4 (Of 4), SWAMP THING #3, and Y: THE LAST MAN #22.



The very name of this book sounds Spanish, doesn't it? But no, it's only old THANOS - still written by Keith Giffen! That's worth at least one margarita all by itself! But enjoy it while it lasts... #10 appears this week.



Back to English for a bit... Can I just say how happy I am, after all that discussion we had of black superheroes some time back, that the new version of Firestorm is African-American? But amazingly, some longtime fans say they're not going to buy it, and not just 'cause it's not Ronnie Raymond... Qué lástimas...Well, if you're open-minded enough to experience an old character brought to you in a brand new way, then FIRESTORM #1 hits the stands today, too.



And speaking of los héroes negros (and before the hate mail starts pouring in, though I don't know why it would, that's actually the Spanish phrase for "black heroes"), CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON #3 is also out this week. There's more to say about it, I'm sure, but I'm still trying to get over the firestorm over...erm, Firestorm.



Who was it who said that HARD TIME read like a combination of OZ and MY SO-CALLED LIFE? I wish I knew and I wish I'd said it. Issue #4 is available today.



(¿Cómo se dice "I'm still not going to be able to get a damn copy, gold foil cover or not" en espagñol? SECRET WAR BOOK ONE: COMMEMORATIVE EDITION goes on sale today for $3.99. And for those trying to get a copy without reserving one...buena fortuna.



If you have no idea why there's ANOTHER NAIL, then now's your chance to pick up the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA: THE NAIL trade paperback for $12.95. A world without a Superman - ¡incredíble!



Of

Cover to THOR #78.

course, if there'd been a world without a Superman, perhaps certain Thunder Gods would have had a better time of it... THOR #78 raises several questions, such as: who will stop Desak, Destroyer of Gods? Who will wield the mighty Mjolnir? No tengo preferencia.



Fans of Wildstorm's WILDCATS VERSION 3.0 series will be unhappy to hear that, with issue #21 this week, there's only three more to go. On top of that, ROBOTECH: INVASION comes to an end with #5 (Of 5). But hey, at least you still have TOM STRONG #26 to look forward to, right? En gustos no hay disputa.



Speaking of Alan Moore, those few of you who have never read WATCHMEN - yeah, you two in the back will be pleased to know that a new edition of the trade paperback is available this week for $19.95.



I'd find something funny to say in Spanish about spiders, but the hell with it. SPIDER-GIRL #73, SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #3, and ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #58 are all available this week.



Meanwhile, if you haven't been completely put off by SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT by now, you're probably up for reading #10 (Of 12). Otherwise, you'll have to make due with the SUPERMAN: RED SON trade paperback for $17.95 though if you consider that "making due," you must be the sort of person that the phrase "loco en la cabeza" was made for!



And finally, the first of the "ReLoaded" X-titles ships this week as Tony Bedard

Chris Claremont returns to the title he's famous for with UNCANNY X-MEN #444.

takes over scripting chores with EXILES #46 and Chris Claremont takes over with UNCANNY X-MEN #444. Those of you already missing the good ol' days of Chuck Austen on that title yeah, you two in the back again can relive the excitement with the UNCANNY X-MEN VOL 5: SHE LIES WITH ANGELS trade paperback for $11.99. And since so many changes are occurring in the X-Universe this year, the Powers That Be are releasing the OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE: X-MEN 2004 for $3.99. (¿Cómo se dice "complete waste of time, money, and paper" en espagñol?)



¡Ay, mis cucarachas! Tengo dolor de cabeza! Vamos a beber algo!


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