Comic shops should be stocking these books for Avengers: Infinity War fans

Avengers: Infinity War is packing in cinemas around the planet, and this should be a boom for comic shops around the planet too but after three plus decades in comics I’m betting there’s shops missing tricks because of a mix of not knowing what to do or/and Marvel being rubbish in keeping their work in print.

But if you’ve watched Infinity War and want more big purple Thanos action throbbing on your bookshelves and don’t want to spend the very rapidly increasing prices for back issues (things like Silver Surfer #44 will be selling for around 100 quid by the end of May at this rate, almost doubling its value) so if you want better options try these.

Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin.

This has the first appearance of Thanos from Iron Man #55 (currently selling for the GDP of New Zealand)  as well as Starlin’s excellent Captain Marvel stories. Although the film arm hasn’t used Captain Marvel yet (film coming in January 2019) there’s much in here they have used as a influence.

Warlock by Jim Starlin.

Simply some of the best comics of the 1970’s. Starlin’s Warlock stories had a strange, trippy, even underground feel but the stories which close off the first phase of Thanos stories that feature the Avengers, Warlock, Captain Marvel, Spider Man and the Fantastic Four’s The Thing are the comics that defined the epic cosmic superhero saga. There’s big chunks of these stories DNA in Infinity War.

The Avengers/Defenders War written by Steve Englehart, Roy Thomas, Jim Starlin and drawn mainly by Sal Buscema.

These aren’t just fun superhero comics, they also feature an appearance from Thanos, plus these are the issues which defined the relationship between the Vision and Scarlet Witch.

Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos by Jim Starlin and Ron Lim.

Starlin and Marvel left Thanos in the realm of death for 13 years which is an eternity in superhero comics terms. In 1990 Starlin returned to Marvel and brought Thanos back.

The Infinity Gauntlet/Infinity War/Infinity Crusade by Jim Starlin, George Perez and Ron Lim.

There are multiple versions of all three trade paperbacks, plus hardcovers, plus there’s trades of the associated tie-ins and spin offs but this seems to be the main core of what Marvel are loosely adapting though there’s clearly material from more recent works from the likes of Jonathan Hickman…

And of course Jim Starlin

This is by no means a complete list. I personally think Marvel’s milking of the character in the last few years has produced some dreadful comics, but these are your core books that realistically, as long as Marvel or your distributor has them in print/stock you should have at least one of each to recommend

And if you’re not a retailer and want a reading list then there you go. You should be finished by the time Avengers 4 comes out next May.

 

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What I thought of Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War in just a few days has made more money in it’s opening weekend than any other film ever. It hasn’t even opened in China yet and that’s the biggest market for films on the planet, so it’ll be a safe bet to say this is probably going to be the biggest film of all time and indeed, everything about this film is gargantuan. Just look at the cast and count the number of genuine A List stars who could open a film on their name alone. Do it, because the number is around the 20 mark plus (even including folk like Idris Elba who is in it for just a few minutes) you’ve got all the rapidly rising stars like Tom Holland, Karen Gillan and Chadwick Boseman so real the end figure is around 30 A List stars.

It could have been like a classic film like It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad Mad World with stars popping up to show their face before vanishing but the Russo brothers hold it all together to the extent where as a film it works as a narrative not to mention a massive cultural event so that even if you’ve not seen a Marvel film at the cinema, you’re aware of the characters through osmosis or having seen Iron Man or The Avengers on any of their multiple TV broadcasts.

So what about the film? I’ve done a few brief points but after the banner there be spoilers so you’ve been warned.

Infinity War is all about Thanos getting the infinity stones ASAP before anyone can mobilise against him. Once in possession of the stones he;ll then kill half the population of the universe in order to create a cosmic balance so there’s enough resources for the surviving population, who of course, will be in thrall to Thanos. In his wake the assembled heroes of the Marvel Universe try to stop him. There’s the plot. It isn’t complex and there’s a reason for that; the scale of the film is so huge that having anything more complex would break the back of the film so nice and simple.

This does not make Infinity War simplistic. Far from it, as at one point there’s so many plot threads (Thanos hunting down the gems, Iron Man, Dr Strange and Spider Man, The Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor, Groot and Rocket Raccoon, Captain America’s Secret Avengers who draws in the rest of the US based Avengers and Wakanda where most of the characters converge for the film’s final battle)  that making things complicated isn’t needed. We get the sense of urgency in the first ten minutes where Thanos and his Black Order have massacred the Asgardians left over from the events of Thor: Ragnarok, and this includes Idris Elba’s Heimdall, and more shockingly Loki as played by Tom Hiddleston in a way more brutally vicious than I expected from a 12A. Add to this Thanos torturing Thor as well as beating the living shite out of the Hulk. The film does not fuck around so you’re quickly caught up in a sense of urgency as well as understanding just how powerful, not to mention evil, Thanos is.

From there we’re whisked to New York with quick introductions for Iron Man, Dr. Strange and Spider Man who with a Bruce Banner who can’t change to the Hulk because the Hulk is too scared to face Thanos, this group is thrown into space before ending up on Titan where they eventually meet with the Guardians of the Galaxy to fight Thanos. Meanwhile Thor and his group are off to find a weapon which will kill Thanos, and Cap’s group is in Edinburgh (where there’s a glorious visual gag which the audience I watched it with found hilarious. Then again, most of Scotland seems to appreciate it too) to rescue the Vision and Scarlet Witch, before scooping up even more characters to head to Wakanda where the final scenes take place.

Of course things suffer. The visual effects and CGI are astonishingly good bar one horrible bit of compositing at the end featuring Mark Ruffalo in the Hulkbuster suit that is simply dreadful. The Thor sub-plot drags on a bit, while Captain America and Black Widow does very little indeed as it seems their scenes where the ones trimmed to bring down the running time. I could have done with a bit more from them as was indeed teased in the trailers, but here’s the thing, the trailers have lied to you. The marketing for this film has been exceptional. Throughout all of it, there’s no suggestion that Thanos picks up all the stones, but as we know now, he does and as he cuts through our heroes collecting stones for the Infinity Gauntlet. By the time the third act kicks in and Thanos is punching the fuckity out of Iron Man leaving Tony Stark bleeding, and dying, it becomes clear that what the Russo brothers have done is make Thanos not just the protagonist, but an anti-hero of sorts on a quest. Essentially they subvert a summer blockbuster theme (hero on a quest) so that somewhere deep down you’re actually wanting Thanos to win to see if he does carry out his threat to commit genocide on a universal scale.

And as he rips the last Infinity Gem from the skull of the Vision to complete his quest, we think at the last minute Thor has saved the day, but nope, with a click of his fingers Thanos wins as half the universe is killed including Spider Man, Black Panther and most of the Guardians of the Galaxy.  The film ends with Thanos victorious and our heroes beaten.

The End.

Except that won’t last. The post-credits scene that teases Captain Marvel and the fact there’s a fourth Avengers film in May 2019 tells us that Thanos will lose, not to mention a large chunk of the deaths in Infinity War will be reversed. It’s an ending which shouldn’t work but it is really a testament to the Russo’s that they’ve given us a superhero film with a grim, depressing end that nobody expected that works wonderfully. It’s also an ending that will get more bums on seats through word of mouth. People will come to see this film to see if the stories are true, and they’ll come next May in droves to see how the Avengers and their allies beat Thanos. It terms of driving the sausage machine that are these films the entire strategy and level of planning has to be admired because at the core is a great superhero film.

Now I’ve said this draws from Crisis on Infinite Earths, as that was the first really big crossover event in the modern age of superhero comics as we know it. It worked so well because it managed to give all the characters in it a moment, and when it ripped everything down we knew it’d end with the heroes winning the day. As a template it’s the best out there which makes Ant Man and the Wasp, and Captain Marvel the films we need to see to complete the crossover. Of course the boost it’ll give two films that were going to do ok to well comes into it as well.

The fact is what Marvel/Disney have done is carve their characters into the modern culture of the planet in a decade and sure, things may well decline when Robert Downey Jnr (who has played Iron Man in a film virtually each year of the last decade) and some of the others leave and new heroes replace them. But this is here for the duration in some shape or form and with the Marvel characters Fox owns coming back into the fold there’s a real chance of me sitting here in a decade talking about how Marvel have ruled the pop culture landscape for 20 years.

Which brings me to the point. Infinity War is a massively entertaining film with a bleak ending that does things summer blockbusters aren’t supposed to, and it should make Jim Starlin (the creator of Thanos not to mention the main plotlines) a few swimming pools worth of money, but it’s also a cultural event of the type we only really see on this scale once or twice a decade. It is impossible to split the film off from the culture and vice versa as they feed off each other but this is only half the job.It was obvious all the original Avengers survived Infinity War (along with a new new heroes) for a reason which I’m assuming is to give them a send-off and to pass the torch onto the likes of Black Panther, Captain Marvel, etc. If Marvel can square the circle by delivering not just one, but two massive cinematic and cultural events in a year then their only problem is where do they go from there, and indeed, where do the fans go because how do you top it?

That’ll be answered in May 2019. Til then do go see Infinity War. It is huge in every scale and you’ll leave the cinema entertained even though you’ve watched a film where a genocidal maniac wins. Yes it is manipulative, even cynical but it is massively entertaining and a reminder that cinema can be about the biggest spectacle that can be squeezed on the screen.

Till then time to stick 25% on all my comics featuring Thanos…

 

I have seen Avengers: Infinity War and my first thoughts are…

First of all, there’s no spoilers, just comments so you’re safe.

Firstly I hope they’ve made Jim Starlin a multi-millionaire. There’s beats, even large chunks of dialogue from Starlin’s Thanos stories going back 45 years here.

In fact the DNA of Starlin runs deep in this film to the extent Marvel Studios give him his own special credit in the exceptionally long credits you have to sit through to get to the post-credit scene that you have to watch not just because it’s an essential bit of plot for what’s coming next, but because there’s a nice gag.

Overall the film works amazingly well but there are issues that probably will be resolved with a 4hour blu-ray cut.

Thanos is the main character here. The Avengers and their allies are along for the ride.

There’s deaths. Some of them a bit more vicious than I was expecting for a 12A so if you’re bringing small children be warned.

It is enormously entertaining and as for the length, I never checked my watch once in 150 minutes til after a quite brilliant final shot.

The trailers have lied to you. You don’t know what to expect so the less you know about the film the better.

You will have to have seen Captain America: Civil War and Thor: Ragnarok to pick up what’s going on, and yes, the latter film’s post-credits scene

As much as it pulls from Starlin, it owes a debt to Crisis on Infinite Earths. That’ll involve spoilers to explain.

The effects are great but there’s one awful bit of CGI that distracts in a crucial emotional scene.

The big fight between Thanos’s Black Order and the Vision and Scarlet Witch in Edinburgh has lots of little gags that’s only funny if you’re watching this film in Scotland.

More later but if you’ve read superhero comics for any length of time then this is essential viewing but seriously, I hope Jim Starlin goes to bed tonight on a massive bed made of money.

Everybody in the Place-Edinburgh Comic Con 2018

Last year I visited Edinburgh Comic Con as a mere punter, and being suitably impressed, took a table for this year’s event as I continue to build up my wee comics business since relocating back to Scotland after several decades. This would be by far the largest show I’ve done in Scotland since 1994 and a chance to kick-start things up a gear, so after some planning and some serious searching to throw in a few dozen or so comics that I’m certain would never have been offered on sale in a show in Scotland, I was ready.

The Friday before the show involved driving. That thankfully was being done by my friend Doug, but as we whisked between Edinburgh and Glasgow to pick up my stock and head back to a damp, foggy Edinburgh it hit us that as a capital city, Edinburgh was doing all it could to make it impossible for anyone unfamiliar with the city to find anywhere as there were no street signs, which added to the fact there was roadworks everywhere and on top of that there was a thick fog, what should have been an easy task was made a chore. Eventually we found the B&B I was staying at which was in 1975.

But it was a nice place that was decently priced in a city that knows how to extract cash out of people. Even more eventually we found the exhibition centre where the show was to be held. Once there some incredibly helpful staff unloaded the van and I proceeded to set up. That was pretty painless amazingly.

Here’s me looking cheery with the stock looking pretty bloody good if I don’t say so myself.

I really do look knackered, but then again I’d just spent a night sleeping in a bed from the 1970’s.

So that’s ten boxes of back issues, a box of variants, two boxes of Silver and Bronze age, a wall full of creamy goodness and loads of stuff under the table waiting to fill a hole.

The doors opened for advance ticket holders at 9.30am. Normally at a show I’d not expect any sort of surge til a good half hour, and as this was only a handful I was happy that I wouldn’t have to run around like a lunatic for a while and I could catch up more with Andy, a former AKA Books and Comics person who was helping me over the weekend.

Wrong. The table soon became busy, then hectic, then rammed as wave after wave of people descended to buy comics. Lots and lots of comics.Obvious titles like Deadpool, Walking Dead and the Avengers were selling but across the board and as for the Silver ad Bronze age, they were selling well. Now I wasn’t overpricing, or religiously adhering to the guide price. I wanted to make money but I also wanted to shift books so everything was priced to sell and sell they did.

That evening in the pub chatting to former AKA people, Steve Montgomery and John McShane I didn’t really manage to grasp just how well I’d done til the next morning when my table looked different.

At least a box of back issues had been sold, the wall flash was different having sold so much off it, and I could bring the packs off the floor. All in all the table looked good and things were going well.

The above is the table on the Sunday morning before the doors opened, and being where I was meant that people could see I sold comics quite easily. It was also open so I could chat, talk and pitch so easily it was an actual pleasure to work the show. Ok, there wasn’t a huge Avengers: Infinity War event, but frankly the film (which as of writing isn’t even out yet) has had such an obvious effect in getting people, especially kids, interested in comics (not bubble tea, or whatever tenuous link some shows and traders have with comics) as a source of entertainment and as a medium. The latter is important because while this book is happening the more kids who see comics for a medium to be explored the better so a huge thanks to organiser James Lundy and his crew who ensured that as a show, the medium of comics was dominant.

Edinburgh Comic Con proves a point that you can not just run a very, very good show in Scotland of this size (in 35 or so years of attending shows this is one of the best I’ve attended) but if you’ve got the stuff (and you know your comics) then you can draw people into the medium. And by the end of the show I was three boxes lighter, knackered and ready for a lot of time in bed sleeping.

I’d like to say more about the con but I can’t. I barely saw the show but what I did was full of people enjoying themselves, and best of all, reading comics. Even better than that, comics they’d bought from me…

Now, the next step in this wee journey. More on that another time but next year I’ll be back at Edinburgh in a much larger operation so more folk can get some comics that may well spark them to become a dealer, or even a creator so we have a next generation of fans who love the medium.

 

Come to the Edinburgh Comic Con, buy comics and maybe have an Avengers: Infinity War surprise

My blogs are going to be a tad sparse for the next week or two as I prepare for this year’s Edinburgh Comic Con which will be my first as a trader, and will be the biggest event in Scotland I’ve traded at in 24 years. According to Bleeding Cool there may well be an Avengers: Infinity War related surprise and I for one would be only too glad to sell copies of Vision and Scarlet Witch to Paul Bettany or Elizabeth Olsen.

So I’ll be a tad busy knocking stock into shape while juggling real life, but I do have a few blogs prepared and ready to go which will drip out slowly between now and the con, and do please turn up at the convention to make yourself known. I’ll look something like this…

But happier!

Also, I’ve been told today about something that’ll be available at the con which is related to my Neptune set of blogs, but I can’t say much for now. Come to the con and find out for yourselves!

I’m putting a lot of work into this, and I hope, I’ll have the sort of comics that rarely show their faces at Scottish shows like this. I’ll be setting up on the Friday and mingling on the evening, though obviously post-stroke/cancer I don’t drink alcohol, I am open to cups of tea and a nice glass of cold lemonade!

And remember, this event has nothing to do with this.

So, the Avengers: Infinity War trailer…

The Avengers: Infinity War trailer has hit which means a tsunami of insufferable reaction videos from many, many wankers but it does look like huge fun. Take a look if you’ve not already seen it.

15 seconds or so of the trailer is made up of the Marvel Studios intro. There’s no mention of the film being based on this comic…

That comic was written by Jim Starlin and drawn by George Perez. Starlin is the creator of Thanos, the Infinity Gauntlet, the concept of the Infinity Stones/Gems, Marvel’s version of Death, Pip the Troll, Gamera, Drax, and pretty much all the characters not created by Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko which will appear in this film.

There’d be merry hell if say, the Lord of the Rings films had excluded Tolkien’s name from the marketing and I know the Marvel films have credits to the actual creators of these concepts and characters hidden in the endless trawl of credits that intersperse short teasers for future films or in-jokes, but it’d be nice to see a little bit of blowing up the name of creators to shine the light on them and give them the credit they deserve rather than just mindlessly cheer on the product of one of the largest multinationals on the planet.

So go read the comics. They’re fun and Starlin and Perez were having the time of their lives creating them. It’s also some of Perez’s best work. Trust me, it’ll make you look forward to the film more…