Tag Archive: archie

After a lengthy hiatus, The Pullbox has returned! After careful thought, we have decided to bring it back in a way that hopefully improves it and also makes it more timely, for you, our faithful readers. Instead of picking a Top 5 every week, we will simply pick five books, still in the two Marvel, two DC, and one indie format, to give our thoughts on. This way we can warn you of what may not be a good book as well raise up those that are worthy. And so, without further ado, here is the beginnings of The Pullbox, Volume 2!

DC – Batman #10 – As ‘The Night of the Owls’ story arc begins to wind down, Batman still must tie up the last few loose ends that plagues his city. More specifically, the remaining members of The Court of Owls. Little does he know though that the menace that has tormented him over the past few nights of his life has roots as far reaching as his parents and his becoming Batman.

I understand that in order to try to modernize Batman within this ‘New 52’ that new villains have been created and small changes have been made along the way to Batman and his history and that as a whole, he has received the least amount of changes of many of DC’s classic heroes. But when you couple last week’s Batman Annual #1 that radically changed the origins of Mr. Freeze and now you create basically a main universe Owl Man that is related to Bruce Wayne and I’m just left shaking my head. The ‘New 52’ isn’t even a year old and it has already jumped the shark with most of its major characters and this is just another example of taking things too far. Much like Batman Annual #1, this issue started off fantastically and then took a nosedive off a cliff and has me worried for the future of The Dark Knight.

DC – Batman: Arkham Unhinged #3 – Delving deep into the stories that took place between Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, this month’s issue re-examines the relationship between the Joker and Penguin and just where their now infamous feud started that would of course carry over into the game.

At first the idea of a continuing comic book monthly telling the untold stories within the Arkham City universe sounded tremendously appealing to me. But after reading this issue I came to realize there is nothing original about these stories at all really. These comic stories are based on a lot of the recordings that you collect in game revolving around various villains because I remember hearing this actual story being told in Nolan North’s over-the-top cockney accent from the game. As much as I enjoyed Arkham City, there is really no reason for me to waste my time reading stories I’ve already been told in comic book form. It just seems like another way for DC to try to capitalize on the Batman franchise as many of their other books struggle along. The only positive was the short scene where the Joker was in ‘human face’ in order to blend in with the public a bit before unceremoniously having it removed to reveal his true color and causing havoc in the Iceberg Lounge.

Marvel – The Incredible Hulk #9 – The Hulk has realized that whereas he used to occupy Banner’s body, the gamma bomb that was set off on Banner’s own Island of Doctor Moreau early in this recently re-launched series has turned the tables and now Banner occupies Hulk’s body instead. And Banner only emerges when Hulk calms down. And much like how Banner had no idea how he ended up in the various predicaments the Hulk used to get him in, Hulk is always surprised to find the surroundings Banner takes him to when he’s in control. This time, they end up at the bottom of the ocean.

For as much as DC has screwed up their universal relaunch, it seems that Marvel has gotten a lot of their individual relaunches right and that includes this monthly. Basically picking up right where the old series left off, The Incredible Hulk relaunch marked a different tone, different writers, and reset the numbering, but kept in line with the continuity and in this case found a way to turn the Hulk on his head for the third or fourth time in the past decade as a character and still kept him interesting. And he still smashes everything in sight. Everyone wins. This was another exciting issue that had a great beginning, middle, and end, but still left it open enough that we want to pick up the next issue as Hulk starts under the sea, and ends up in deep space. A terrific adventure as the Hulk continues to battle the enemy within makes The Incredible Hulk a monthly to definitely to keep an eye on.

Marvel – Deadpool #56 – The Merc with a Mouth continues trying to adjust to being without his healing factor and feels he needs to get his mojo back as years of relying on the healing factor has taken away his edge. So he calls on Taskmaster to help him. But Taskmaster obviously is someone who can’t be trusted and so Deadpool learns a hard lesson in dealing with the world now that he is powerless.

Even without his healing factor, Deadpool is still one of the funniest books out there as the inner dialogue with the voices in his head, and the rise of Paste Pot Pete as his new nemesis, is just great to see develop over the past couple of issues and continue here. The thing that I worry about is that it took 50 issues for Deadpool to change even slightly as a character and although still entertaining to read, now that he is without his healing factor and blowing himself up a lot less, the book seems to have lost something. So I hope that Marvel gets Deadpool out of this ‘finding himself’ funk sooner rather than later because this self-pitying ‘pool could get old fast.


Archie – Mega Man #14 – The anti-robot activist group known as The Emerald Spears has trapped dozens of robots in the convention center and its up to Mega Man and the rest of the robot masters to make sure that humans and robots alike make it out alive! Meanwhile, Dr. Wily is lost in the wilderness concocting his next scheme and getting ready to deploy his next group of robot villains.

I was worried a bit about this monthly because in only 12 issues, they blew through the first two Mega Man games basically. But introducing new enemies like The Emerald Spears to delay moving into Mega Man 3 really makes me think that this book could have a long and ongoing shelf life. And that thrills me to no end because this is possibly the best-written monthly video game inspired comic book we’ve ever seen. It gives a lot of great characters personality we didn’t know they had and delivers on the action that we grew up actually playing. And as new robots are introduced like Quake Woman in the last issue, you wonder if the comic book may lead to some new game inspirations down the line for the Blue Bomber. It may be because the Mega Man franchise has always been one of my personal favorite gaming properties, but I can’t get enough of this book. I love the tone, the character arcs, and the fact that a lot of the robot masters that Mega Man liberates return to Dr. Light’s care and add a lot of surprising depth as the roster grows as the stories move through the games. If you love Mega Man, then get on board with this book NOW.

Sorry to have missed last week folks, but after a crazy celebration over the New York Giants winning the Super Bowl followed up by a week in Vegas for the 15th annual DICE Awards and I think you all might understand why I couldn’t get around to doing a write-up last week, which is especially sad because it was a very good week for comics. But, the week of February 8th was a very good week as well, especially for Marvel, and so without further ado here is the Pullbox.

1) Marvel – Deadpool #50: Kicking off the first really big event for our favorite Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool #50 starts off the “DEAD” story arc where Deadpool’s obsession with Death has pushed him to the brink (even for him) and so now he is playing his own sick game of chess with X-Force, Daken, The Kingpin, and many others in the Marvel Universe in order to finally fulfill his death wish.

Deadpool has been continually one of the consistently best written Marvel books due to writer Daniel Way writing the entire series up to this point (almost unheard of nowadays) and just when you thought things were going to start drying up and go stale, he kicks off this arc, which looks to shake up what we think of Deadpool in every way imaginable and have us laughing the whole time while he is doing it. Even if remotely a Deadpool fan, pick up this issue as it surely is a sign of big things to come. Or the end of everything. Not really sure which.

2) Marvel – The Incredible Hulk #5: Hulk begins fighting his way through Banner’s island of misfit gamma irradiated animals while Banner deals with his very human enemies on the other side of the island while trying to bring his mad quest to be reunited with the Hulk to an end.

The most shocking thing about this issue was the surprisingly crisp banter between all the characters. And the irradiated monkey poop. Easily the funniest moment of the week because it literally came from nowhere. The best part of this issue though is we finally learn how Hulk and Banner were separated and it was done by none other than Dr. Doom. Once again able to do what no one else in the Marvel Universe could (as is the greatness that is Doom), everything of course comes with a price and so finally it looks as if we are going to get the explosive issue we have been waiting for as Hulk comes face to face with Banner and will likely result in their re-bonding and Doom will call in the favor he earned by separating the two originally.

3) DC – Batman and Robin #6: Robin finally shows his true colors and we find out that he has been playing both Batman and Nobody and Batman tends to be a bit more forgiving of these things, and that’s saying something. 

This story had been drawn out just enough as we learn both a key element of Batman’s past via flashback and Robin endears himself to the audience as we realize he is just a son looking for his father’s acceptance. And in the superhero world, taking down a super villain by yourself would be the logical way to do that I suppose if you’re a 10-year old boy. But Robin is clearly in over his head and that vulnerability all around for the first time from this character I think really keeps him from falling down the Jason Todd path of 25 years ago as fans were starting to get uneasy with the smart mouth brat that is Damian most of the time. It will be interesting how Batman comes in to save the day and it will be even more interesting to see where the book goes from here.

4) DC – The Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #5 (of 5): The Penguin can’t help but resort to his old ways and they finally catch up to him and everything he thought he might have had is once again forcibly ripped away from him. 

This book is great because it helps show off the tragic dimensions of a character like the Penguin as many of the snippets we get where he plays the villain to Batman’s hero play him off mostly one-dimensionally. This book is also a real throwback to how Batman moves and reacts to all the situations around him and panel sequences where he moves silently through the shadows taking down one thug at a time reminds us just how awesome he is in a book that is supposed to be all about the Penguin. A tragic end for this tragic character really drives the point of the mini-series home and was overall a very well written book. If you’re looking for a little more depth from the Penguin for whatever reason, then this is a great series to start with and is highly recommended for all Batman fans.

5) Archie – Mega Man #10: Mega Man’s budding rivalry with Quick Man comes to a head and we start to see the Blue Bomber go a little power mad again as he begins collecting all these new powers. Will Mega Man be able to continue his pursuit of Dr. Wily or will this constant pace finally get the best of him? 

I loved this book because it had a ton of action with more classic Mega Man 2 bosses as Mega Man hits both the halfway point of his boss battles and the halfway point of this story. We also learn a bit of history about the bosses as Flame Man reveals and confirms that he is indeed Fireman 2.0 basically and Quick Man talks about how he is a combination of Gutsman and Bombman. Of course, this pattern will continue for many issues to come hopefully as I can’t wait to see now how Mega Man deals with Airman and the other remaining bosses before dealing with Wily again himself. If you grew up on the Blue Bomber’s video games, there is absolutely no reason not to be reading and loving this monthly right now.

It’s kind of sad that a lot of the big events that are going on in Marvel really aren’t the best stories going on right now. DC on the other hand is starting to show some of the grit and interesting storytelling that the New 52 was supposed to signify. Meanwhile, in the Indies, there are a bevy of interesting stories going on with some monthlies, but I find myself still gravitating towards the game related ones. So here is this week’s Pullbox!

1) DC – Deathstroke #3: Deathstroke is ticked off. This isn’t news as this is his normal state of being. But as a bunch of hot shot up and coming assassins think they can make a name for themselves by offing the best in the business, they have another thing coming and the latest on this laundry list of newbies is a guy named Legacy. Deathstroke decides to amp up the difficulty though and see if he can take out this rookie and a new target all at the same time. Deathstroke is actually starting to work in a story behind all the glorious senseless violence that permeates nearly every page of this book so far through its first three issues. I was hesitant when I heard that Deathstroke was getting his own monthly, but if the book continues to evolve along this path, this could start to become something special. The only question now becomes just what exactly was in the briefcase in the first issue that is still rubbing him the wrong way.

2) DC – Green Lantern #3: Hal Jordan and Sinestro come to an agreement that will enlist Hal into helping Sinestro free his home planet from the clutches of his former Yellow Lanterns and in exchange Hal gets his Green Lantern ring back. But can Hal’s most nefarious enemy be trusted? Let’s just say Sinestro’s brilliantly laid out plan backfires when for once, it is Sinestro who lets his emotions get the best of him. This story takes an amazing twist at the end as the build up of the first two issues finally starts to come to a head. The relationship between Hal and Sinestro is still weird to watch unravel, but now that they both have a common goal in mind, it is interesting to watch them work together as Hal is still guided by his emotions and Sinestro just berates him at every turn for it. If you haven’t been getting this book, now would be the time to jump on board.

3) Marvel – New Avengers #18: Norman Osborn has been busted free and the heads of the largest terrorist organizations in the world look to instill him at the head. Hydra, AIM, and the remnant of HAMMER loyal to Osborn are all pooling their resources and the first thing Osborn wishes to do is reform a new group of Dark Avengers. Calling on the likes of Billy Bastion, Hawkeye’s brother with skill equal to him, Skaar, son of Hulk, and Toxic Doxie to serve as his Scarlet Witch, Osborn looks to bring the pain, and soon. The most interesting books Marvel has put out in recent memory all revolved around Osborn and his Dark Avengers so to see them going back to that and pulling together a hodgepodge of lesser known character to do so pleases me to no end. Now what will Osborn do though to get some body armor and become Iron Patriot again? If you haven’t been reading this book, get it NOW.

4) Marvel – X-Men Legacy #258: Even though the characters that the most recent Legacy story arc have revolved around are already back on Earth and interacting with the X-Men, the actual arc that got them back home doesn’t actually wrap up until this issue. You have to love Marvel’s lack of concerns for continuity. Besides this obvious time and release mismanagement by Marvel, this is a great issue as you see Magneto, Rogue, Havoc, Gambit, Polaris, and Marvel Girl really come together and pull a rabbit out of their hat that could only be done in comics to get back home and defeat a new enemy known as “Friendless”. As the space station the X-Men are trapped on begins to fall faster and faster towards a distant sun, they must overcome Friendless’s mental barrage one more time before trying to pull out of the decaying orbit that threatens to turn them all into cinders. Not the best Legacy arc I’ve ever read, but you should pick it up just to see where it goes from here as the next issue will intertwine with the Regenesis event.

5) Archie – Mega Man #7: Mega Man finally finds the hideout of Dr. Wily and where he is holding the kidnapped Roll, but with the original six robot masters back under Wily’s thumb, can Mega Man hope to overcome them along with the likes of Time Man and Oil Man? I’m really enjoying the dynamic that you are seeing with Mega Man and the other characters around him, reminding me almost a bit of the old cartoon show from the early-mid 90s. Add in these new robot masters teamed with the originals, to make it eight evil robot masters and keep with the theme you would see in the later video games, and I think anyone who is a fan of the Blue Bomber will be enamored with this monthly comic run and just where Archie comics had been going with it. I can’t wait not only to see how Mega Man overcomes these stacked odds against him, but also to see just who he will have to face in the issues beyond that as fan favorites like Snake Man or Air Man can’t be far behind.

This was a surprisingly tough Pullbox to put together this week as there just wasn’t a lot of titles that stood out to me as most issues, especially with all these re-launches going on from both Marvel and DC, are just building up to the bigger action with these issues serving more as a lot of plot development right now. Still, I was able to pull a few out that I think are worthy of your attention so without further ado, here is this week’s Pullbox!

1) DC – Red Lanterns #3: Atrocitus has picked Bleez as his lieutenant and restored her intelligence, but he may be learning that there is a reason that the red makes many of its followers blind with rage as Bleez immediately begins showing her lack of loyalty to the Red Lantern leader now that she is thinking for herself again. Great artwork obviously punctuated with a lot vibrant reds throughout this book, the story is a clear example of what I was talking about above. We get Bleez’s bio and why she was chosen to part of the red, as well as why she has skeletal wings in this issue. We also see what could become a lot of drama for the Red Lanterns later on as without a Lantern war going on to focus their rage, the infighting may begin sooner rather later and Red Lantern vs Red Lantern spells one thing: bloodbath. At least Atrocitus still has his kitty.

2) DC – Swamp Thing #3: I make it a point to try to give you some variety whenever I do the Pullbox each week, but one comic that has been consistently awesome and surprisingly so is Swamp Thing as I’ve featured all three issues now. Alec Holland realizes that he may not have a choice in becoming the defender of the green once again as he learns that while he may be the jolly green knight for the environment, that the rot, the blackness, has a champion as well and with the help of Abigail Arcane, Swamp Thing must prevent the two from merging or be thrust into an all out war for life on earth to continue! Again, a lot more story than anything setting up what can be an awesome confrontation, to see the champion of the black’s powers begin to emerge where he controls rotting and dead flesh and to see what he does in a cancer hospital…all I can say is wow. Gruesome, grotesque, and with more to come, Swamp Thing was one of my few easy choices this week.

3) Marvel – Avengers Academy #21: The original members of the Avengers Academy are forced to accept new members into the old West Coast Avengers mansion as tensions run high as they feel like they are being replaced and new enemies begin to reveal their plans against the Academy. The highlight of this issue is clearly when the lack of communication between Hank Pym and the students reaches a boiling point and erupts into a giant brawl between Luke Cage, Hawkeye, Captain America, and Hank Pym against the original Academy members (minus Veil who left last issue). This massive positive is what propelled this issue into the Pullbox this week because the reveal at the end of the comic where the Acadmey kids from the future have indeed turned evil reminds me too much of a Teen Titans story from a few years ago where the Titans had to take on their future selves. If this is the route this comic is going then as much as I’ve enjoyed this book for the past almost two years, it may be going into the territory of having itself removed if that is indeed the story Marvel is setting up.

4) Marvel – Uncanny X-Men #1: As we continue to see the fallout from Schism with the X-Men, we see just what lengths Scott Summers is willing to go in order to try to save what is left of mutantkind. Unfortunately, an old nemesis from the past, Mr. Sinister, has the same idea, but is going to about things in a very different way and the sleeping Celestial sticking out of San Francisco looks to be a key part of his plans. Although the issue is paced a bit too quickly for my liking, to see Marvel finally work the Celestial back into a story after several years of it just hanging in the background of battles taking place in San Francisco is great. Not to mention Sinister’s new hipster look makes everyone know right from the get-go that his intentions are…well…sinister. Lots of action including Colossus still struggling with the power of the Juggernaut, which I can’t wait for that fallout sooner or later, and this is a very solid re-launch to one of Marvel’s standbys from all the way back in the 1960s.

5) Archie – Sonic The Hedgehog #230: I admit that I was very tempted to pick Last of the Greats #2 as my indie pick, but when you stick a 20th anniversary label on something, I have to pick it up. Basically, Sonic, set in the cartoon universe of the early 90s where Eggman is still Robotnik and Sonic has a whole slew of friends called the freedom fighters have stopped Robotnik’s latest plan to robotize the planet Mobius. But it comes at a cost that Sonic might not be able to bear. Honestly, the fact that Sonic has had an ongoing comic for this long in and of itself is mind boggling, but if you’re like me and actually remember watching the short lived Saturday morning cartoon starring Jaleel White (yes, Steve Urkel did this voice of Sonic the Hedgehog), then you’ll probably enjoy reliving a small slice of childhood with this 20th anniversary issue commemorating the release of Sonic Generations celebrating Sonic’s grand run in gaming to date.

This was a difficult Pullbox to put together this week, let me tell you! With X-Men: Regenesis starting it was hard for me to not put an X-Men title on this list, but I’ve been showing the Children of the Atom a lot of love lately and there were a couple of other worthy titles from Marvel that also deserved the limelight. I do recommend though that you read your other monthly X-books before reading the Regenesis one-shot. That’s my tip of the day there. DC did not have as strong a showing as Marvel, but the two I picked there I think more than pick up the slack. And we had a little competition for indie pick of the week, but as I always try to feature new and different books as time goes on, I went with one I’ve been enjoying for a while, but haven’t gotten around to featuring yet. So, without further ado, here is this week’s Pullbox!

1) Marvel – The New Avengers #17: Continuing with the story line started in this monthly’s annual a few weeks ago, we see Norman Osborn back in a position of power. But unlike last time where he was hiding in plain sight of the public, he has taken up arms with AIM, Hydra, and several others of the big bads of the Marvel universe. Setting an Ultimo robot after a Stark Industries laboratory, the New Avengers leap into action. Unbeknownst to them though, this is all just a test as Osborn and several AIM scientists are piloting the robot and collecting as much data, and a very special sample of Wolverine’s blood, from the skirmish. The issue ends with a bang as Osborn’s plan have clearly just begun. What is great about this comic is that along with his entire time as the head of HAMMER, these global threats that Osborn is producing has brought him to a new level of villainy. For a long time he wasn’t even Spider-Man’s greatest threat. Then he moved to the front of that line. Then he was on the bottom rung of the community threat. And now, he’s top dog there, too. Great action and the start of something that is going to be huge, my only complaint with this comic is that they put Daredevil prominently on the cover and he wasn’t in the issue at all. What’s up with that?

2) Marvel – Amazing Spider-Man #671 (Spider-Island Part 5): I’ve been really disappointed with Spider-Island thus far, but aside from a couple of pages early on with Mary Jane finally getting powers, this was a really great chapter in what has been a subpar event to this point. Spidey finally gets to the bottom of everything that’s been going on with the return of the Queen and gets his Spider-Sense back after having it turned off by the psychic bubble placed over Manhattan to keep the spider people locked on the island. We also see the Jackal hopefully meet his fate as I doubt any true Spidey fan has ever liked him as a villain, although I’m sure like Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars, he probably has a bevy of clones of himself waiting in the wings too. As things finally start to come to a head with Spider-Island you hope that it isn’t like many events that Marvel has done in recent history where there is a quick climax and fast let down after this unnecessarily long build-up. As a whole, I have not been impressed though and am still leaning towards returning to my boycott of Amazing Spider-Man once this whole arc is finally done. Maybe I’ll go re-read my Maximum Carnage graphic novel so I can remember when I really cared about Spider-Man as a character.

3) DC – Green Lantern #2: Hal Jordan is forced to make a “Monkey’s Paw” type deal with the newly reinstated into the Green Lantern core Sinestro and he might actually learn a thing or two from the dictator from Korugar. I’m still a bit on the fence about this comic as I still want Hal Jordan to have his ring back, but his dynamic with Sinestro is something to behold. And with what Sinestro plans in order to give Jordan his “ring” back could break Jordan as a character if done improperly. So far so very good though. Seeing what Sinestro could do with a Green Lantern ring makes you start to truly fathom the power they contain and makes you wonder what has held back the four-honor guard Lanterns of Earth that we’ve followed all these years. In one awesome page, Sinestro did more than Jordan has done with that ring in a year and it only looks to make this odd-couple relationship thrive even more in the pags of this book. Like I said, it could turn sour in the end, but right now this is a must read.

4) DC – Deathstroke #2: An explosive first-issue left me curious to see where things would go plot wise with this book, and the plot has led to a lot more explosions and a lot more action. As Deathstroke is on the path of trying to figure out who is setting him up for something much bigger than he realized he was getting into in the first issue, some hired assassins get in the way after an exchange goes bad. Nothing Deathstroke can’t handle though and before you know it you’ve got body parts, blood, bullets, and swords flying in every direction. It’s gory, it’s brutal, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here. I would like to see Deathstroke with a bit more of a challenge though in future issues because in these first two issues he has just blown through his no name opponents like wet-tissue paper. Let’s see some heroes or something in there to mix it up!

5) Archie – Mega Man #6: If you’re like me, you can’t get enough of the Blue Bomber and this relatively new monthly series starring Mega Man is typically a bright spot for me. The first four issues basically followed Mega Man (or as he is affectionately called by Dr. Light, ‘Rock’) through the first game with Wily taking the six robot masters and sicking them on an unsuspecting public. Now, Wily is off to prison, but in every Mega Man game there has always been eight robot masters beyond that first one. So introducing Oil Man and Time Man, two brand new characters that were “held back” by Wily as they were still further in a prototype phase when he stole them from Dr. Light. Now, Mega Man and the reprogrammed original robot masters have split up into two teams. One to help fix the damage they caused initially and another to find Dr. Wily and put a stop to him once and for all. This comic is everything I would have hoped from it and more. New and old robot masters alike make this comic just as enjoyable as the games and to see Mega Man absorb and use their powers makes me wish Mega Man 11 would be announced. But this comic is fine in place of that and so my only real gripe with it is that I have to wait 30 days between issues. If you are a fan of Mega Man, do yourself a favor and start picking this up every month. It consistently finds a way to balance plot, character development and action and is worth it every time.

Originally Published: May 17, 2011, on Youtube.com/Rcars4885

I come to you once again with your weekly geek fix. This week I review Brink from Bethesda and Mega Man #1 from Archie Comics. My hot chick pick of the week is Kate Upton and this week’s theme is the Mega Man theme from Marvel vs. Capcom 1.

Originally Published: April 18, 2011, on Comicvine.com

I normally would have a “Comics to Video Games” article ready for you folks right about now (and don’t worry I’m working on the next one), but I was reading an interview the other day with Ian Flynn, a writer best known for his current run on the Sonic the Hedgehog series published by Archie Comics, and found out he’s going to be the main writer behind a new monthly Mega Man comic book series.

This latest video game series from Archie Comics comes out in the beginning of May and it will chronicle the Blue Bomber’s run through his nearly dozen games, starting with Mega Man 1 playing out across the first four issues, and will answer the big questions, like how no one was able to figure out when Dr. Wily was up to no good. It’s not like he had ten giant skull shaped fortresses built. Oh, wait. Hmmm. Also, I wonder if there will be any mention of Mega Man Soccer in an annual or something.

Anyway, this got me thinking about the flood of both monthly and limited series comic books we’ve seen in recent years based on video games. City of Heroes, Halo, inFamous, Gears of War, Prototype, and even DCU Online, which of course is a comic based off a video game based off of comics. So what’s with this sudden influx of video game based comics at our local retailers?

Now, comics based off of video games are nothing new. After all, Sonic, has had his own ongoing series for nearly twenty years now. But to see so many new comics based on games is a little off putting. An idealist might say comics are simply being used as tools to help flesh out stories that can’t be fully told in a 15-hour game. But what if they are really being used just as promotional items to bolster game sales instead? Or are comic companies trying to jump on the bandwagon of a popular game franchise in the hopes of making a profit, knowing that the key comic book and video game demographics are one in the same? Or maybe it is a little of all of the above?

Can ongoing video game comics also hurt the base franchise as there could be unintentional limits placed on the game developers? There would have to be constant communication between both the game developers and the comic book writing and editorial teams in order to ensure that what is being done in the comics isn’t radically different from what is happening or going to happen in sequel video games upon their release.

If Josh Ortega kills off someone in the Gears of War comic, he had better let Cliff Bleszinski and Karen Traviss know so that person doesn’t show up in Gears of War 3, otherwise there are going to be some mighty ticked off Gearheads out there. And what if Cliff had planned on making that character a major player in the Gears universe? How much say does the original game creators have when it comes to forwarding the plot of a comic that is being looked at as canon? It just seems that adding more moving parts to such a complex and detailed story might come off as limiting from a creative standpoint, especially while the main series is still really ongoing and even while just trying to flesh out previously mentioned references from the original property (like the Pendulum Wars for Gears).

And this brings us back to my inspiration. Mega Man. Does doing a comic that follows, for the most part, a story we already know lessen the mass appeal of a comic? Why should I read something I’ve already played through several hundred times? Can you really flesh out a character that much with a few thought bubbles while it’s blasting another foe into oblivion? If anything, it might take away from those original gaming experiences, especially from the old NES days, where the player was left to their own devices to fill in gaps in a protagonist’s personality and whatnot. So are original stories that add to and build on top of already existing canon the only real option in that case to ensure a profit will be made and to protect a property?

Despite this, does every new video game need a comic book? I read the six-issue limited series for Prototype and I felt what I got from that comic was not worth the price I paid as a lead in to the actual game. In fact, the comic ruined the game experience some as it spoiled a lot of the game’s surprises. The same goes for the Gears of War comic. Some issues have been great, but I didn’t need a one-issue back-story on Tai. I don’t need a character that is dead to be fleshed out. It just reeks of trying to turn a quick buck if you ask me. It dilutes the potential of building the franchise naturally and feels very forced in some cases.

But I really don’t mind franchises diversifying, and actually enjoy seeing new adventures with my favorite characters that continue the story beyond the original product (you should see my Star Wars expanded universe novel collection). I do feel that there should be some sort of criteria before a franchise is expanded though like with a game based comic. Wait until the main story, in most cases nowadays the story being a trilogy, is complete before you start filling in the gaps. Imagine if a comic or novel like Shadows of the Empire in Star Wars, which takes places between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, had been released in 1981, right between Empire and Jedi. I think that it coming after the fact made it much more powerful and interesting. Similar to the games Halo: Reach and Halo 3: ODST. They were better stories because the universe had already been fully established and then writers went back to fill in the blanks.

So what do you guys think? Are you fans of video game based comics? Are there too many out there flooding the market? What should be the criteria for a game based comic to be published? And how much creative freedom should the writing and editorial teams have with long established characters like Mega Man? Will you buy the Mega Man monthly upon its release? Let us know with comments below!

Originally Published: August 21, 2009, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com)

Michael Uslan is hailed as the Godfather of the modern comic book movie and is probably, inadvertently, solely responsible for the path in life that I have taken (now Mom and Dad know who to blame).

He is the Executive Producer of every Batman movie, animated and live-action, since the 1989 classic starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson and directed by Tim Burton. He also executively produced Catwoman, Constantine, National Treasure, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, Swamp Thing, and is currently working on a Captain Marvel movie, a new Shadow movie with Sam Raimi, and, of course, Christopher Nolan’s third Batman movie.

He is also one of the foremost comic book experts around today and is the writer of September’s highly anticipated Archie #600 that begins a six-issue story arc where after 60 years the character will finally propose to Veronica.

The fact that someone so involved with the comic and movie industry was able to take some time out of his schedule for me meant that I was going to get my money’s worth. So below you can download the lengthy conversation I had with Michael as I picked his brain about everything from multi-pronged media campaigns for summer blockbusters to his thoughts on the recent death of the Dark Knight.

– to listen to Part 1 of my interview with the Godfather of the modern comic book movie, Michael Uslan.

– to listen to Part 2 of my interview with the Godfather of the modern comic book movie, Michael Uslan.

– to listen to Part 3 of my interview with the Godfather of the modern comic book movie, Michael Uslan.