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I had a big think about this in the summer, but recently, I've been thinking about how comic books attract new readers and how welcoming they are. There's an old saying about how "every comic is somebody's first" and comics have to have a go at making it possible for new readers to pick up any book, even if its midstream. There's a lot of advertised "jumping on points" and Marvel's .1 initiative has been a pretty uneven way of their characters, concepts and stories.

In superhero movies, there's always a desire to do an origin story as a way to make the story accessible to new readers. This always frustrates me, especially since Colleen Coover's told the definitive Spider-man story in one panel and six words and Batman's isn't much more than "My parents are deeeeead." We don't need to see James Bond start his military training and changing to HMSS to know that he's a badass, so why have we got to see Green Lantern get his ring? Why can't we just see him be a space cop?

DC's relaunch has made a big deal about being new reader friendly and has by and large jumped into stories. Apart from Supergirl, I'm not aware of any origins being retold, which is nice.



The story recap )

The concept recap )

The character recap )

The novel recap )

Are comic books really less new-reader friendly than other media? I know that it doesn't take much to pick up a movie and watch it, and that sequels rarely do recaps (though the credits sequence in Incredible Hulk was pretty bloody good). What about for TV? Is it easier to jump into a TV series midstream (and not just soaps, but one with an ongoing narrative like The Shield or Fringe) than it is to jump into an ongoing comics series?
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It's hopefully well know that I'm pretty much the number one cheerleader for Matt Fraction and Barry Kitson's series The Order, a ten issue book that looked at California's 41 team of everyday heroes given superpowers.

They've been very quiet in the years since the book finished, so any time I hear a mention of them, I get excited and rush out to grab the issue.

After the series ended, The Order made a few dotted appearances in the Marvel Universe, with a fleeting showing in the Initiaitve's Secret Invasion and leader Henry Hellrung joining in with Iron Man: Most Wanted. The team made a cameo in San Francisco based Eternals and now that Fear Itself has rolled around, it's time for them to make an appearance again. )
Does this mean that I'll have to keep reading Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt?
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Every now and then, I listen to the Word Balloon podcast. It's pretty low down on the list of comic podcasts to listen to (behind IGN when it comes out, iFanboy and House to Astonish) and even further back on the list of podcasts overall, but if there's a creator that I like being interviewed, then I'll download it and have a little listen. The interviewer, John Siuntres slightly gets on my nerves as he just sounds insincere, but there aren't that many other podcasts that have the same sort of turnover and range of interviewees.

And so, when Matt Fraction appears for an hour and a half fireside chat to talk about Iron Man #500 (Imagine that we didn't renumber this book... what would the book be like in 467 issues time?), Fear Itself, Thor and some other stuff, I'm interested. There's also a fair bit of Q&A from iFanboy readers.

This post is inspired by one such question, namely What Fraction sees in Tony Stark that makes him a character that is interesting for him to write (or words to that effect). Fraction responded that to him, Tony Stark was an alcoholic that didn't go to meetings and that that was a hook for him (though it's much better for you to listen to the podcast and hear Fraction explain it rather than my week old half-remembered manglings).

So, I had a little rummel through my bookcases and shortboxes to find how Fraction's handled Stark's relationship with booze so far in his Marvel work. I only got as far as the end of Most Wanted in my hunt, so don't expect to see him talking to Maria Hill about how "Hef's a visionary"

The Sponsor or The Next Right Thing )
Five Nightmares #1 )
Most Wanted )
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At the request of Jazzypom, here's Kate Kildare's contribution to Awesome New Female Character Week. You might know her from her recent stint in Uncanny X-Men, where she was hired to represent the X-men (the Astonishing X-men shared a publicist with Captain America, but there's no news on what's happened to her.)

Kate came from The Order where she was introduced to the title in #2. )

But who is Kate Kildare? #5 goes into her backstory )

If you haven't already, go out and buy The Next Right Thing. I swear, it is the best Marvel team book published in the last five years. And I say that as a man who is reading Hickman's Fantastic Four.
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Since it's New Female Character Week, I bring Magdalena Neuntauben of the Order, aka Veda. She's an action film star who adopts orphans and teaches them kung-fu. Her super-power is the ability to create golems from the earth or natural environment.

This comes from The Order #4, where Zombie Robot Hobos are menacing LA. The Order track them to the source of the radio waves that are controlling them. Veda and Henry Hellrung (Anthem) touch down on Skid Row to deal with some social issues as well as smashing Zoboes.

The Order #4 is one of the best single issues of a comic book that I've got.

Throwing money at a problem sometimes helps. )

Buy the Next Right Thing at Amazon for cheap.
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[personal profile] stubbleupdate
It's hopefully well know that I'm pretty much the number one cheerleader for Matt Fraction and Barry Kitson's series The Order, a ten issue book that looked at California's 41 team of everyday heroes given superpowers. After the series ended, The Order made a few dotted appearances in the Marvel Universe, with a fleeting showing in the Initiaitve's Secret Invasion and leader Henry Hellrung joining in with Iron Man: Most Wanted. There's also this little look at them in San Francisco based Eternals

This issue features Maggie Veda Neuntauben (action star and mass adopter of orphans, with the superpower of creating golems), Sgt. Michael Supernaut Fields (paralysed veteran with a big fuck off robot exo-skeleton) and James Calamity Wa (ex-baseball player, now engineering graduate who built his own legs after a car crash and now has the superpower of superspeed).

Plus there's some Eternals or something. I don't know.

And you're right, the lighting on the preview panel IS amazing.

Read more... ) It's a shame that Fraction's star has risen to high that we'll likely never get to see any more of The Order, since he's playing with Thor, The X-Men and Iron Man now.

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