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Image Comics offers a secure home to seasoned creators and new talent

At this year's Comic-Con in San Diego, indie upstart Image Comics held a panel introducing new top-tier creators and series. The news is evidence of the rise of creator-owned material, Image's unique specialty.

The now 20 year old Image Comics, formed with the purpose of publishing works owned by their creators, has taken full advantage of its anniversary celebration. They've released something in the neighborhood of 20 to 25 #1 issues so far this year, both for miniseries and ongoing titles. Between the surge in new creator-owned properties and the gargantuan success of The Walking Dead, I think it's safe to say that Image is worthy of being grouped together with Marvel and DC — the Big Three of the comics world.

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What You Should Read Before Seeing "The Dark Knight Rises"

I was just surfing around online yesterday and I saw this trailer for this movie that looks kind of cool. It's called "The Dark Knight Rises." Anyone heard of it? Is it supposed to be good?

Less than 3 weeks remain before the ridiculously-hyped and highly-anticipated final installment of Christopher Nolan's critically-acclaimed Batman trilogy reaches theaters. In my final installment of the "What You Should Read" series for summer 2012, I have prepared a few titles that could enhance your experience with The Dark Knight Rises. These should help familiarize you with some of the stories and characters that may have inspired TDKR. Or, perhaps you're like me and just can't wait.

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What to Read Before You See "The Amazing Spider-Man"

Next week on July 3, Sony's relaunched Spider-Man franchise with The Amazing Spider-Man debuts starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Already, the film has received very positive reviews, and is expected to do well for the Spider-Man name.

As a fresh take on the hero, fans old and new can treat this as a jumping-on point without regard for the Tobey Maguire movies. Whether to re-familiarize yourself with the classic icon, or to discover his virtues, now is a great time to start reading some classic Spider-Man stories. He's one of Marvel's most iconic heroes with almost 50 years of continuity behind him, so there's plenty from which to choose. I've compiled a short list of those stories I think will will best prepare you for the movie — whether to improve your notice of fanservice, or to get you more excited!

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Comics Coming Out of the Closet - A sign of social change, or profit-grabbing?

Comics have gotten a little gay recently. The comics industry, in true form, has taken notice of an already-explosive topic and made a spectacle out of it, perhaps capitalizing on controversy, or helping to fight for a cause.

On May 15, President Obama publicly declared his support of gay marriage. On May 23, Astonishing X-Men #50 hit shelves and digital storefronts featuring longtime hero Northstar proposing to his boyfriend. On June 1, DC Comics revealed that Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott will be a homosexual man in The New 52. On June 7, Earth-2 #2 featured Alan Scott proposing to his love interest. On June 21, Astonishing X-Men #51 will feature the first gay wedding in superhero comics.

It's very easy to get cynical about all these events taking place soon after Obama announced his support of gay marriage. Whether or not you believe it's a media stunt, exposure of the topic was increased by the media frenzy that occurred. News outlets from The View all the way to TMZ and local radio stations reported on the burgeoning gay stories. This is the start of huge social change.

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Happy Memorial Day weekend! There's a lot of things on sale!

This weekend will last three days for many people across the United States for Memorial Day - a day often accompanied by major sales across the country! Games and comics are no exception to the sales, and I've put together some of the great deals and some other assorted things.

Of particular note is a game called Saints Row the Third, one of my favorite games last year. It's on sale for $16.49 - down from $50. I highly recommend this game if you haven't had the chance to play it yet. I'll be telling you more about it later, but it is hilarious, fun, and addictive.

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Gauging the Odds: Who'll Show Up For Avengers 2?

In case you didn't know, there was a little movie that debuted in the beginning of May called The Avengers. It earned a modest $207 million domestically on its opening weekend, and has now surpassed the $1 billion mark worldwide. Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed the development of a sequel shortly after reports of its initial success came in, to no one's surprise. But how will the sequel compare?

Joss Whedon is torn as to whether or not he wants to be involved. Most of the big names from the first are signed up for (many) more movies, both for their own characters and as a part of the Avengers. But, their primary involvement with the next story is not entirely confirmed. Who else might we see? Which other Avengers might join the crew to keep the interactions fresh for audiences? Below, I've provided an assessment of a few likely candidates and their odds of being written into what is sure to become the most highly anticipated sequel since The Dark Knight Rises.

Spoiler warning: this post will reference scenes and plot from The Avengers. You should see the movie before reading. Really, you should see the movie.

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A look back at some surprises from DC's new 52

We're in month nine of DC's New 52 initiative. We've seen mega hits in Batman and Action Comics, severe flops in Static Shock and Hawk & Dove, and sleeper hits in Birds of Prey and I, Vampire. The "First Wave" ended last month, and six titles (Static Shock, Hawk and Dove, Mister Terrific, Omac, Blackhawks, and Men of War) were axed. With their end come six new titles in a "Second Wave."

With more new titles on the way, I'd like to recognize some of my favorite surprises from the past eight months. Each of these titles has shown enough promise to earn continuation, but their true quality is not so easily gleaned. For me, a comic's priority is story, and these titles have delivered on that ground with each installment since they began. These are those stories you wouldn't expect to be great - those that provide a nice surprise.

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PSA: Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday

Check your local comic book store to see if it's participating (it probably is), and head down early on Saturday to get a stack of free books! Be sure to support your local store by making an actual purchase, if you feel so inclined. Notable franchises with free books to be distributed include the Avengers, Transformers, Buffy, ...and many others. Check the link for the full list.

Source: www.freecomicbookday.com

by Joshua Whitman on May 3, 2012

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