We assess the BOOM!/Archaia deal, show the Horizon’s End Kickstarter some love, go over the various Marvel Heroes video game reviews on the web, and more in this week’s News Round-up.
BOOM! Studios acquires Archaia Entertainment
By far the biggest comics-related news of the past week has to be that of BOOM! Studios acquiring Archaia Entertainment, a deal that caught many observers by surprise—the statement issued by BOOM! Studios’ public relations department to press outlets had a media embargo advisory that prevented the news from being broken any earlier than 1 PM EDT of June 24, leading us to think that negotiations weren’t finalized until quite recently. True, Archaia’s regular output had slackened of late—this despite a strong showing at last year’s Eisner Awards (Archaia’s Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand took home three awards, including “Best Graphic Album–New” and “Best Penciler/Inker”), a generally positive critical and community reception for much of its output, and the publisher’s continued acquisition of new licenses of foreign material—but there didn’t seem to be any obvious outward indications that the publisher was on the market. On the BOOM! Studios side of the equation, any signs that the LA-based company was poised to take over one of its competitors were masked by major announcement after major announcement and its line of licensed Adventure Time trade paperbacks performing superlatively in both the bookstore and comics shop markets, in what is turning out to be a banner year for the relatively new comics publishing concern.
What can we expect from the new, bigger BOOM! going forward? The addition of the Archaia back-catalogue significantly shores up a BOOM! Studios reprint collection library that hasn’t had very many breakout hits outside of licensed, all-ages kaBOOM! imprint material such as the aforementioned Adventure Time and its various spin-offs. It also gives BOOM! a number of fresh, high-profile properties to work with: Royden Lepp’s Rust is due to be adapted as a major studio feature film, David Peterson’s Eisner Award-winning Mouse Guard continues to truck along and grow as a multimedia franchise, and Archaia has a pool of new (and new-ish) talent who have shown the ability to create some pretty outstanding comics work. And while there is no firm word yet on the status of Archaia’s North American print publishing licenses to various webcomics, digital comics, European comics, and established multimedia properties such as Cyborg 009, Space: 1999, Hawken, among others, there’s no immediate reason to think that most of those agreements won’t be carried forward to Archaia’s new existence as a distinct but subordinate imprint of BOOM! Studios for the duration of their terms. It’s probably a stretch to even suppose that the Archaia acquisition will allow BOOM! Studios to become a top five comics publisher in North America in terms of retail market share or overall unit market share—a group that currently consists of Marvel, DC, Image, IDW, and Dark Horse—but it’s not unreasonable to speculate that it places BOOM! in a very favorable position to wrest sixth place away from the Diamond Comics Distributors-owned Dynamite Entertainment if CEO Ross Richie and his team play their cards right and capitalize on the strengths of Archaia’s property stable.
For comics creators signed with Archaia, the BOOM! Studios acquisition represents an opportunity to reach a bigger audience: Archaia has done a commendable job up to this point of insinuating itself into the mainstream comics market given the strong competition and finite potential for market expansion, but it could never seem to ride the individual successes of its standout titles to a spot in the retail market share top ten or a more prominent standing in the comicsphere.
It’s early days of course, and things could change in a proverbial heartbeat, but as of now, the BOOM!/Archaia deal seems to be a “win-win” scenario for corporate and creative alike.
Seminal 1990s Green Lantern artist Darryl Banks returns to comics with Horizon’s End
The Comixverse’s Jason Thees recently sat down with Chris Delloiacono and Daron Kappauff, the writers of the Kickstarter comics project Horizon’s End, which sees Kyle Rayner co-creator and fan-favorite Green Lantern artist Darryl Banks working in comics again after spending the past several years toiling almost exclusively in the concept art, toy design, and art commission businesses. Check out the interview, which provides some pretty good behind-the-scenes insight into the ins-and-outs of crowdfunded comics and watch the Kickstarter video below to learn more about Horizon’s End:
The Kickstarter for Horizon’s End runs until 18 July, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT. To read updates about the project and to become a backer, go to the Horizon’s End Kickstarter page.
A little NBA Draft/comics crossover
What has us real geeked about this Bleacher Report video, which has NBA draft prospects answering the question “If you could be a superhero, who would you be?” is the fact that there’s an NBA prospect who’s named Archie Goodwin, a name he shares with the late Warren and Marvel Comics editor and Luke Cage and Spider-Woman co-creator referred to as “the most-loved comics editor, ever.”
Our favorite responses from the video:
- It makes a neat kind of sense that Tim Hardaway, Jr.—son of Tim Hardaway of “Run TMC” fame—chose the Flash (at 00:19 in the video).
- CJ McCollum clowns himself with an Aquaman reference (at 00:22).
- Victor Oladipo (at 00:29) is quite clearly a Wolverine fan.
- Canadian Myck Kabongo showing YTV and anime some love (at 00:40).
Archie Goodwin ended up as the second-to-the-last pick of the first round, earning a guaranteed two-year contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder with a team option for the third year. Hardaway went at #24 to the New York Knicks, McCollum, picked at #10, will be headed to the Portland Trailblazers, and Oladipo went second overall to the Orlando Magic. Dragon Ball and YTV fan Myck Kabongo didn’t get drafted at all, unfortunately, but hey, at least this year’s draft marked the first time that two Canadians got selected in the lottery of the same draft: Toronto-born combo forward Anthony Bennett was something of a surprise selection by the Cleveland Cavaliers at #1 (the selection of a Canadian as the top overall pick marked another first in NBA history), and sweet-shooting big man and Kamloops-native Kelly Olynyk was picked by the Dallas Mavericks at #13 (he ended up getting traded to the Boston Celtics later on draft night).
Marvel Heroes gets lukewarm reviews
After years of anticipation, preview videos, and extended beta testing, Gazillion Entertainment’s free-to-play, microtransaction-driven Marvel Heroes MMO action-RPG finally launched earlier this month. The reviews haven’t been very encouraging, and the game seems to have inspired some reviewers to reveal their inner punster with their review article titles. Here’s a selection of comments and video reviews from various video game press outlets:
Samantha Nelson (“Marvel Heroes Review: Free* Comic Book Game,” The Gameological Society):
The free-to-play online multiplayer game aggressively tries to get its players to sink money into micro-transactions, but the game just isn’t engaging enough to warrant an investment of time, let alone money.
The solicitation starts when you choose your character. You start with one B-list hero like The Thing or Scarlet Witch, but if you want to be Captain America or Iron Man, you’ll need to pony up. But let’s say you resist the urge to upgrade immediately—you’ll soon find enemies dropping random loot that can only be used for heroes you don’t have. Want to stand out in the crowd of dozens of Daredevils? You can buy a different uniform. Need more space to store your crafting materials? That’ll cost money, too (real money, not in-game currency).
All of that is to be expected from a “freemium” game, and I would put up with it, the same way I accept even the most obnoxious of television and movie product placement, if I were actually being entertained…
Ray Carsillo (“Marvel Heroes Review: Dr. Doomed from the start,” EGM)
While Marvel Heroes does some nice things, the Marvel license isn’t enough to cover up glaring technical and design flaws.
Paul Dean (“Marvel Heroes review,” Eurogamer):
The game’s massively multiplayer aspect falls somewhere between bizarre and outright broken.
James Haresign (“Marvel heroes Review,” Strategy Informer):
[Prominent characters] are stuck behind a paywall, which isn’t that surprising, considering Marvel Heroes is another entry in the growing trend of free-to-play MMOs.
… this has to be one of the most cynical cash grabs I’ve ever seen. Iron Man, Spider-Man, Black Widow, etc. aren’t cheap. You’d expect micro-transactions, but Gazillion don’t seem to have heard of the word ‘micro’. Instead, Thor and his fellow Avengers are going to set you back about £20… Each! Even costumes aren’t cheap, most set around the £10 mark, and they’re only cosmetic. changes.
I’m probably not going to play any more Marvel Heroes. After the prologue I arrived at the Avengers headquarters and immediately saw tons of the free heroes as well as a few of the purchasable ones. It looks sort of silly to see five Hawkeyes running around…
… MMO’s have classes but Storm is not a class in the same way that ‘Wizard’ is a class. I could be very happy being a wizard in a group of wizards but I don’t want to be a Gandalf in a group of Gandlafs. I understand that there are different costumes you can put on and that might help a little but I’m not interested in being silver age Captain America fighting next to cowboy Captain America. It just seems like a very odd decision to do it this way, rather than make it a 4 to 8 player co-op game.
… there are five free characters. You’re given a choice between Daredevil, Storm, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and The Thing. So you can’t really be too surprised on some level when you get in there and you see a panoply of stone dudes. I was granted another hero very quickly, Hawkeye, also from the basic collection. If you see Iron Man, let’s be very clear – that person paid twenty dollars for the privilege. Which is how Free To Play works, I get it. I’m not dumb. I’m just not likely to do it. What’s funny is that I’d probably spend thirty dollars playing some kind of slot machine for a chance to get Iron Man. Right? I’m incredibly easy to manipulate; just make it look like it might be a game and The Squirrel—my collector-self—will manifest.
Marvel Heroes currently has a 61 Metascore (“Mixed or average reviews”) and a 5.9 User Score (“Mixed or average reviews”) on review aggregator site Metacritic.
More comics news from around the web
- CBLDF, Dark Horse launch manga guide for librarians and teachers. (Comixverse)
- Frank Cho gets temporarily banned from Facebook (again) for posting topless pic (not of himself, silly, but of a jungle girl drawing). (Bleeding Cool)
- Image Expo 2013 schedule details revealed, big announcements from “surprise special guests” anticipated. (Comixverse)
- Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama to launch new manga title, Galactic Patrol Jako (Anime News Network)
- Got €1 billion burning a hole in your pocket? That’s reportedly the asking price for the Panini Group, which holds the publishing license to various Marvel, DC, and manga titles in Italy, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. (Lo Spazio Bianco)
- A lot of readers have some very strongly-worded opinions about Comic Book Resources’ Jim Johnson’s Age of Ultron #10 review. Does the “any publicity is good publicity” adage still apply to the site in this case? (Comic Book Resources forums)
- Ghost Rider trial update: New trial scheduled for November of this year. (The Beat)
In case you missed them…
Don’t forget that we post new previews of trade paperbacks and hardcovers every week. This week, we’ve got previews of eight books from Dark Horse, IDW, and Image Comics. Check them out, but be advised that the preview for Black Kiss II contains images of a very graphic sexual nature that are not safe for viewing at work.
We would also like to apologize for the unannounced two-day, midweek outage we experienced. We had some host issues, but they’ve been cleared up quite definitively.
We leave you now with a recent time-lapse video of Becky Cloonan (Conan, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys) drawing Gambit:
Becky Cloonan’s Demeter, the final self-contained installment in the artist’s trilogy of self-published one-shots (the comic was preceded by 2011′s Wolves and last year’s The Mire, which is in the running for the “Best Single Issue” Eisner Award) recently launched on comiXology’s Submit platform as a 99¢ title.