(Editor’s Note: TLDR, Shut up Marvel and take more of my money!)
We are not just about games here at 2 Guys Gaming. I used to be a comic book collector. Wait. That isn’t the right verb tense. I still have boxes of comics in my closet. My name is Shawn and I am a comic book collector (“Hi, Shawn.”) currently on hiatus. I started collecting as a teenager, but got rid of that collection when I no longer wanted to move those boxes. I picked up the hobby again a few years ago after moving into our house because I knew that we wouldn’t be moving again for a long time. Also, several of the story lines at the time intrigued me. This was during the Infinite Crisis at DC and Civil War at Marvel, so they didn’t disappoint. The books became more and more expensive but the profit margins stayed more or less the same for local stores. After moving once for cheaper rent, our town store finally went under and I had no easy access to that particular paper drug.
I kept collecting The Walking Dead, Y: The Last Man, and some of the Ultimate Marvel titles for a couple of months. The Ultimates were the first to go, then inexplicably Y, and finally I gave up on The Walking Dead last year just when it is reaching its most popular. I know I sound like a hipster, and I just might be, but I like the original stuff better. The story is getting too depressing for me in my old age. With the habit finally kicked, like any addict, I was ripe for another. As our oldest son grew up, I noticed that he shared my affinity for video games so I told him about Pokemon. He started playing and immediately became a Pokekid. When I then told him that there was a card game, we started visiting that section of Wal*Mart and Target more often. During one of these trips, I saw that Magic cards were still a thing. Enter a new cardboard crack (“Hi, Shawn!”) after I picked up a Deckbuilder’s toolkit. Most of my hobby budget has gone to Magic since giving up comic books.
The reasons for this are threefold. First, a new set of Magic cards are released only every few months instead of every week. Instead of spending 25-50 dollars per week, I’m only spending 100-150 about three times a year. Second, the cards are much smaller and easier to store. I have thousands of cards stored in boxes that take up the same room as only a couple hundred comics. They were much easier to sort into those boxes, too. While the comics remain in disarray, the cards are separated by color and card type. Third, I rarely read comic books more than once. All of those comics sitting in my closet are most likely fated to remain there until the estate sale. I am constantly changing decks and adding new cards, so even the ones in storage probably won’t stay there very long. If they do, they still have a chance to be played eventually. Fourth (1, 2, 3, 4? Bear with me, I’m only a mathematician), the cards have a more immediate and larger resale value than the comics as long as you play the market right. This article isn’t about Magic. This article isn’t about Magic. Sorry, many of my recent articles have been about Magic. There is a point to all of this. What is the point? Oh, right. Magic clearly became my hobby addiction of choice.
However, as an adult child, I never truly outgrow any of these frivolous endeavors. Therefore, when I received an email for a free (or discounted, I can’t remember) month of Marvel Unlimited, I took notice. I promptly forgot all about it and missed the promotion. Luckily, there are many free comics available on the app to get me hooked and spend my money. Let’s see what this app is all about.
The first thing I do is scroll to the free books to see what is available. I recognize most of them from when I last collected, but a few catch my eye like the first issue of Red Hulk. That was about the time that I stopped reading. There are also two versions of Guardians of the Galaxy, one from 2008 and one from 2013. Finally, I recognize and file away 1602. I saw the title when I collected, but never checked it out at the time. Nothing else interested me in the free bin this month. They have other titles like Deadpool, but I feel like Deadpool by himself might get old. I really liked his team up title with Cable, but that one isn’t free if they offer it at all. Still, those 4 books might be enough to get me to sign up for a membership for a month at least.
I picked Red Hulk as my first book to read. I’m not sure why I didn’t read it when it was released. Jeph Loeb is one of my favorite writers and a must read. I think that I was so enamored with the World War and Planet Hulk storylines that I didn’t think anything could top them at the time. Reading issue #1 of Red Hulk now, I was right. I never would have gotten past this issue back then. That’s not to say that it is bad. It isn’t. The story got me interested and left off with a cliff hanger that had me immediately wanting to read the next part. It just wasn’t on the same level as the other two stories and would have gotten an unfair comparison at the time. Now, though, I definitely want to read the next issue. Point #1 to Marvel Unlimited.
I went with the 2008 version of Guardians of the Galaxy for my second pick. Guardians used to be my favorite title when I was younger and I’m glad to see that it is getting love again. Marvel made what some would consider to be a niche story into one of the most fun movies that I’ve watched recently. Okay, let’s read some Guardians. Well, that’s disappointing. Not altogether surprising, but still disappointing. When I opened the app, it immediately informed me that it stopped working. This happens only about 20% of the time and the app always starts back up with no problem. It is a minor inconvenience, but it is real. I wouldn’t call this a full point deduction. I already don’t like paying for digital content, though, especially buggy digital content from a publisher as large as Marvel. One half point from Marvel.
(As an aside, what is this score that I’m keeping? What scale am I using? How do I know when enough points have accumulated to purchase the app? This whole enterprise feels very arbitrary. Oh well, what are we around here if not arbitrary. Onward and upward!)
As far as the content of the two Guardians titles goes, they both more or less follow the standard for Starlord and the gang. Similar to the movie, Marvel uses both first issues to introduce the team of mostly lesser known heroes. Yes, I just made another thinly veiled reference that I liked Guardians before they were cool. It’s already been established that I am a wannabe comic book hipster.
I enjoyed the 2008 version better than the 2013 version. Both books were good in their own ways. It’s just that the 2013 book was written by Brian Michael Bendis. I usually like his stuff. His writing style didn’t seem to fit the personality of the Guardians of the Galaxy very well. I didn’t recognize the 2008 writers name, but he wrote the comic in a much more fun style. Guardians of the Galaxy is ultimately about the absurd and the writers (I just checked and there were two. That’s usually bad news for comic books or movies) captured that spirit much better than Bendis.
I also just learned that Neil Gaiman wrote the last free comic that I want to read. Yes, I am way behind the times, but we already knew that. Almost everyone is a fan of Neil Gaiman, even if they don’t know, and I am no different. Well, I am different because I do know that I’m a fan. You get what I’m trying to say. Hopefully you do because I’m not entirely sure and I don’t think that either of us is ready to suffer yet another of my lengthy explanations. So, we understand one another? Yes? Good. Let’s move on. Arbitrary 3/4 of a point to Marvel. Current arbitrary score: 1 and 1/4
1602 takes several familiar tales, some based in fact and some based in fiction, and fuses them into a whole new and highly entertaining story. Marvel Knights has always been famous for those types of comics and this one is a good introduction into the MK style, especially for non comic book fans. Even if you are a comic fan, there is enough to keep you interested and entertained. I don’t know how the comics rotate into the free app, but this one is free right now. If you’re somehow like me and never read it, I recommend that you give it a chance. Arbitrary 7/8 of a point to Marvel. Current arbitrary score: 2 and 1/8
Well, more or less, four for four (That was awkward to type and I’m sure just as awkward to read. Please don’t try to read it out loud. I’m afraid of the potential consequences.) on the free comics. For the low, low price of 9.95 (or is it 9.99?), I can have access to the rest of the issues and thousands more. I know that the content is digital. I also know that I sound much older than I am by making that statement. Hey, kids, get off my lawn with your internets and iPods! At least it is good digital content and much cheaper than the alternative. Takes up a lot less room, too. That is not a small consideration for a pack rat like me. I’m going to do it. I’m going to sign up for the paid version of the app for a month and reassess at the end of my subscription. I didn’t get sued yesterday, so let’s try again today. Give me an excelsior!