My Latest Distraction on Marvel.com

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As reported previously, we were in New York for the Avengers Signing at Midtown Comics earlier this week. It turns out Marvel.com‘s “Agent M” was covering us!

Look for Angie and I at around the two and half minute mark:


My first Glee

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There was a ton of hype around Glee when it first started.  I think I wanted to watch it in the beginning.  Maybe we had recordings that conflicted.  Either way, I didn’t.  I think maybe we tried to watch once, but didn’t make it through the episode.  It’s been officially picked up for a 3rd season by Fox, and I just watched my first full episode.

My viewing was inspired by the inclusion of Lady Gaga.  Well, the inclusion of her music.  Gossip Girl had THE Lady Gaga.  Just saying, Glee, just saying….  So I watched.  A whole episode.  Not impressed.  The singing was not believable.  Over produced?  Under-produced?  I’m not sure which one.  But it seemed like a really bad music video to me where the music just doesn’t match the mouth quite right.  I’m sure the story of the characters pulls plenty of people in, and there was enough in one random episode that I sort of got the gist of things, but this will probably be my only episode.

What can I say?  Acapella groups and 12 year old’s on YouTube are more entertaining/impressive for Lady Gaga covers than this was.


Our Latest Distraction: LOST, the finale

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The series finale of ABC’s Lost aired Sunday night and this is one of the rare places where our interests here at MLD all converge. Seems poetic given the nature of the conclusion. Please feel free to share your reactions with us as well. So the question that gets it all rolling: what’s your verdict?

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Lost: Getting in some last words

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With the Lost finale beginning in a few short hours, this is the last chance for any of this speculation to mean anything. Like most fans, I’m wondering about a lot of things, but here are 5 big points of interest for me. Please feel free to share your thoughts here as well.

“Desmond is the failsafe”

All along it’s been clear that Desmond is the key to everything. When I originally sat down to write this, he had just run over Locke in the parallel universe and it became very clear that he was trying to push everyone together. Locke encountered Jack again in the following episode, and now we see a similar dynamic to the one they had on the island. Desmond’s jail break is clearly another step to getting everyone together. This could be that if the people on the island are with him, he could maybe bounce their consciousnesses to the parallel universe and “save” them, or it could have something to do with….

Parallel universe smoke monster

If the island is at the bottom of the ocean, where does this leave the monster? It makes sense that maybe he escaped and is out there in that world and this is what Desmond is trying to get everyone together for.

The smoke monster is not Jacob’s brother

The fact that Jacob finds his brother’s body has me thinking there’s a chance the smoke monster may not actually be the brother. The monster was released when the brother entered the well and took his form.

“Don’t tell me what I can’t do”

It’s also be indicated the the smoke monster taking someone’s form may not be simply cosmetic. The monster takes on some aspects of the “form’s” personality as seen in the last episode about Locke. The monster was reacting and saying things Locke would say, but he has no connection to Locke other than it being a dead guy he could imitate.

Those damned kids

Everyone seems to have one and early on children seemed really important to the story. It’s also interesting that a lot of the candidates even have a child out there that bears their name (David Shepherd, Aaron Austen, Clementine Ford, Ji Yeon Kwan). I can’t help but think we may be seeing them in the finale, and with the way time works on the show they may even be shown as adults returning to the island.

It’s over tonight, so we’ll see what’s important and what isn’t soon enough. Enjoy all six hours that ABC is bringing your way starting at 7PM.


Marvel App vs Digital Unlimited

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I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while now, but put it off until I had a chance to use all of the digital reading options Marvel has out there. Thanks to Dave Z for the loaner iPad.

The launch of the iPad brought with it a new comic book reader app from Marvel Comics. The app is actually available for both the iPhone/iPod Touch and the iPad, and is designed slightly differently for each platform. Free issues are offered and have been updated a few times since launch, but all other issues offered are sold at $1.99 each. Marvel has also offered a subscription service called Digital Comics Unlimited for a few years now that allows you to read books on a computer using a Flash reader through a web browser. I am a current subscriber, but haven’t really used the service extensively. A much larger selection is available through the subscription and you can read as much as you want for $4.95/month. Digital books are generally released digitally at least six months after they are released in print.

In honor of the release of Iron Man 2, I compared all the platforms using Matt Fraction and Salvador Laroca’s Invincible Iron Man #1, which is a current free download from the Marvel app and one of the thousands of books available by subscription.

The book downloaded a lot faster on the iPad than my first generation iPhone over WiFi. I could easily read the full page on the iPad without zooming in or using the Smart Panel feature that takes you through the panels with each swipe. The iPhone automatically goes into Smart Panel mode and that’s probably a necessity given the smaller screen size. Even though you can change the settings to show the full pages on entry or exit, this takes a lot away from reading the book for me since the full page doesn’t really lend itself to being readable in most instances. There also didn’t seem to be a way select a page on the phone.

Reading using the Digital Comics subscription is a lot different from the app. The Smart Panel feature doesn’t actually go to the panels so much as quarter pages for the most part. There’s also no rotation on a computer monitor, so any portrait image is constrained to the height of the screen. This isn’t so bad on a desktop machine, but on the laptop things are pretty underwhelming. Also as you might expect, the reader can run much faster on a desktop than a laptop, to the point where reading my laptop seemed to be a fairly cumbersome experience.

In this particular issue, there’s a two page spread of Tony Stark monitoring everyone in the Marvel Universe that pilots a suit similar to his Iron Man armor. I used this as a sort of benchmark of what made for the most dramatic experience. This image seemed to look best on the iPad. It could be that the reading software has been better optimized or it could be that the dimensions of my laptop screen just aren’t ideal for comic viewing. Even on my desktop, the reader just had a lot of negative space around the pages, where the iPad zoomed in a used every bit of real estate to present the image.

While the iPad is a great portable way to deliver comics content, I may not be the typical target customer for this. It has great presentation, offers the flexibility of reading away from my desk, and is easier than using my laptop, but the price structure is the worst. I’m going to continue to buy hard copies of the things I want to own. Given that they’re $3 for something I can hold in my hands, I don’t want to pay $2 for an electronic copy (I still buy CDs too). Combine this with the fact that what I’ve read through my subscription so far has been limited to things I didn’t want to buy when they were new, and there’s no way I want to pay $2 an issue for them. Ideally, I would be able to use my subscription to read content I’m already paying for on the iPad, but that’s not the arrangement right now as Marvel considers them two separate services.

Digital comics could be a way to get me away from buying books that I want to read but don’t need to own a hard copy of and resent for taking up too much of my space. I’d rather read those things at the subscription rate than pay per issue, so as nice as the iPad app is, it’s just not a better solution at the moment.