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A comiXology Guide to Zatanna!
I will admit, at the moment, we have some gaps in our Zatanna collection here at comiXology (I’ll be sure to let DC know WE WANT MORE!), including not only the first appearance of Zatanna in 1964’s Hawkman #4 but also the introduction of Zatanna’s father Giovanni Zatara whose story appeared alongside the introduction of Superman in Action Comics #1!
That being said, I put together a little reading list that will still give you a nice introduction to one of the DC characters that deserves way more attention than she gets and not just because her bowtie game puts mine to shame.
In 2010, longtime fan of the Zatanna, Paul Dini put the young magi in the spotlight of her own solo series. It’s a great place to start with the character, and Dini (who you may have heard of as the writer of Batman: The Animated Series) has become the quintessential voice behind character. The series follows Zatana’s adventures having recently left the JLA, and while short lived adds much to the Zatanna mythos, seeing her pitted against a sorcerer who controls the supernatural crime scene in San Francisco, a Faustian casino owner who trades the souls of his new brides for everlasting youth, and a new supervillan named Siphon who attempts to steal Zatanna’s powers.
In the mid 2000’s Grant Morrison wanted to take what he felt was a bunch of DC “C-List” characters and form them into his own Avengers analogue. Zatanna was sloted for his Scarlet Witch counterpart and so a 4-issue miniseries featuring her was woven into Morrison’s grand over-arching storyline that brought all of his characters together ending in a climactic final battle. Zatanna’s story can be read on its own if you’d like just a taste, but the whole story has been collected into a couple volumes. With JH Williams III on art, it’s definitely worth a look or two
- Read Grant Morrison & JH Williams III’s Seven Soldiers: Zatanna
- Start the complete Seven Soldiers of Victory
Maybe this is the whole reason I wanted to write this list. Just recently Paul Dini got back in the driver seat of the good ship Zatanna, and this time brought along the incredible joequinones to write one of the best books to come out under the DC banner in recent memory. Bloodspell sees two superheroes brought together by their love for one another as well as their love for fishnet stockings. Witness a young Black Canary meet an even younger Zatanna Zatara, and get glimpses into how their friendship began while they take on a curse that is hunting down the former members of an all-female casino heist that Canary had once infiltrated.
Now that we’ve all seen the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer (one million times), I’m sure there are some of you out there who are curious about just who this group of proclaimed
a-holes space piratescosmic superheroes are. Well never fear, comiXology unbound is here to shed some light!
If you haven’t seen it already, check out our earlier post which gave you a general introduction into the GotG, but if that little taste wasn’t enough for you we’re going to break it down for you one character at a time starting with the fearless leader of the gang Peter Quill aka Star-Lord!
The first appearance of Star-Lord was in Marvel Preview #4 (Jan 1976) written by Steve Englehart with art by Steve Gan. It shows the story of Peter Quill’s childhood and eventual ascension to the role of Star-Lord (a position he steals in a fit of rage). Star-Lord’s whole character is based on revenge and anger, and frankly he’s kind of a jerk. Creator Steve Englehart had plans for the character that went unrealized, however, later reflecting on his website:
I conceived something very large. My hero would go from being an unpleasant, introverted jerk to the most cosmic being in the universe, and I would tie it into my then-new interest in astrology. After his earthbound beginning, his mind would be opened step by step, with a fast-action story on Mercury, a love story on Venus, a war story on Mars, and so on out to the edge of the solar system, and then beyond.
But — after his earthbound beginning, where I established him as an unpleasant, introverted jerk, I left Marvel, so no one ever saw what he was to become.
After Englehart left Marvel, the character was taken over by legendary Marvel writer Chris Claremont and was changed to have more of a hard sci-fi/action feel. The Claremont issues also introduced Star-Lord’s companion, Ship, and added more backstory to his origins, namely that he was actually the son of a galactic emperor and his mothers death was actually part of a Hameltesque plot for the throne crafted by his evil Uncle. Both the Englehart and the early Claremont stories can be read in Star-Lord: The Hollow Crown and the the continuation of Claremont’s run can be read in Star-Lord: Worlds On The Brink
For a long time after that, Star-Lord didn’t see too much action in the Marvel universe, and it wasn’t until 2004 in Thanos #8 by Keith Giffen and Ron Lim when he made his return, revealed to be a captive in an intergalactic high-security prison called The Klyn. His reintroduction was followed up by Annihilation and then Annihilation Conquest (along with a spin-off miniseries starring Quill) which saw Star-Lord team up with the mightiest galactic heroes to fight the apocalyptic forces of Annihilus, lord of the Negative Zone and the techno-organic Phalanx.
The Annihilation event lead directly into what is considered the quintessential Guardians of the Galaxy book written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. It was in this series that Star-Lord assumed the role as leader of the Guardians.
If all this seems WAY TOO MUCH, then don’t worry. brianmichaelbendis rebooted the series and it’s crazy fun. You can start with issue 0.1 to get a retelling of Peter Quill’s origin and go on from there. You’ll be caught up in no time.
Congrats! You’re now a Star-Lord Scholar, brag to all your friends, and get working on your finger-machine.
Bringing this one back for today’s comixology guide!
X-Men or Avenger? Pietro or Peter? Hero or Villain? Evan Peters or Aaron Taylor-Johnson? The story surrounding Quicksilver has quickly become a confusing place. We’re here to help make things a little clearer with a quick intro in…
A comiXology Guide to Quicksilver
Quicksilver made an appearance in the very earliest days of X-Men history alongside his twin sister Wanda Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch) as members of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in Lee & Kirby’s The X-Men #4. Their membership in the brotherhood is tenuous at best, as it’s not a sense of evil but debt that keeps them under the command of the man that they will one day find out is their father.
Following the events of House of M, in which Quicksilver played a large role and we learn more of the relationship between Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and their father Magneto we see a world where Quicksilver is now powerless in the mini-event Son of M. Crushed and defeated, his only hope and refuge lies with the Inhumans.
And if you’re one of those people who doesn’t care about the past, you only want the new and fresh and here and now, then you need to check out All-New X-Factor. Peter David, who penned some great Quicksilver in the 90s is back at the helm and he is known for writing the best version of the speedster.
The Joker: One of the most well known, reviled, beloved, and feared miscreants of all time. The host to a seemingly endless number of beloved comics, it may seem an overwhelming task to get started reading comics featuring the Clown Prince of Crime. Well, we’re here to get you started with…
A comiXology Guide to The Joker
The first appearance of the Joker written and drawn by the legendary Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson. The Joker was originally meant to be a one-time-use character, but was brought back later by popular demand. This is not the maniacal, theatrical Joker that exists today but grim, noir-ish, figure with a dark sense of humor.
Creators Denny O’Neil and Neil Adams officially crowned The Joker the “Clown Prince of Crime” in his first modern day appearance right here. The perfect antithesis of The Batman – a pale yet colorful madman out to be the last one laughing as the world burns to ash around him – here we meet The Joker the world would come to know and ultimately fear for generations to come. That signature playing card still sends a shiver down the spine.
Arguably the most famous (and controversial) Joker comic ever, the Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland explores the origins of the Joker and unravels a dark and disturbing tale that adds a whole new layer of depth to the relationship between Batman and his greatest foe. While the ending of the comic continues to be a point of contention amongst comic fans, Grant Morrison added some insight into the debate.
The Joker’s twisted campaign of gruesome horror shook the house of Wayne to it’s very foundations in Death of the Family. A literally faceless enemy obsessed with tormenting Batman and those around him no matter the cost. Whose reign of terror was left unfinished rather than played out. As if simply waiting in the shadows to strike at the heart of gotham once more. Here fans got a Joker re-invented for the New 52. Gone is the cheap purple suit and simple sight gags. Replaced with a menacing agent of chaos out for one final face off (see what we did there?) with Batman, where the stakes have never been higher.
If you’ve spent even a modicum of time on the #comics tag in Tumblr, it’s likely that you have seen brianmichaelbendis show up on your dash once or twice, posting some of the best pages in all of comicdom and laying down some serious knowledge.
The world of comics can be a confusing place, and just like the man himself, we are here to help make it a little clearer for all of you. So if you’ve been looking for some suggestions on what Bendis books to read but have been too afraid to ask, take a look at our
comiXology Guide to Brian Michael Bendis
Arguably, the comic that Bendis is best known for is the reboot of Spider-Man’s universe with 2000’s Ultimate Spider-Man, which not only brought Peter Parker’s origins into the modern age, but also kicked off the now-beloved Ultimate Universe. Bendis, along with veteran artist Mark Bagely, took Spidey’s original 11-page origin story and turned it into a seven issue story arc, and continued on for over 100 more issues to become Marvel’s longest running consistent creative duo on a single title.
Bendis continues to helm the Ultimate Spider-Man series with sarapichelli on art and starring fan-favorite Miles Morales.
Bendis and Michael Avon oeming's long running creator-owned series Powers combines the superhero and police procedural genres, and is now in production at FX to get it's own TV series. Powers pits the wiles of two detectives against a world filled with superhumans. The series went on to become an Eisner award winner and still continues to come out in the ongoing Powers: Bureau.
In 2001, Bendis took up the task of writing Daredevil with Alex Maleev on art. The series would go on to become one of the most lauded and character defining runs in the characters storied history. The Bendis run introduced a new love interest into Matt Murdock’s life and saw the reemergence of Kingpin.
Following up Kurt Busiek’s run, Bendis rebooted the Avenger’s series with Avengers Disassembled, which heavily featured the Scarlet Witch and lead directly into the events of the now-beloved House of M event.
An instant classic! Beast travels through time to bring the original X-Men into the present, imploring past-Cyclops to stop his future self from committing genocide on the mutants. Currently at 27 issues, this series is a regular best-seller and is sure to go down as one of the all-time greatest X-Men series.
As if all that wasn’t enough, this weekend (5/10-5/12), we have a sale on a bunch of great creator-owned comics by Bendis including Brilliant, Scarlet, and Jinx. Make sure not to miss out on the limited-time Bendis Bundle to get 5 Bendis collections for 59% off!
A comiXology Guide to The Sinister Six
With Amazing Spider-Man 2 now officially in theaters, we’re already anticipating the chatter to pick up around the next Spidey flick and the Sinister Six!
We know the comic world can be a confusing place, so we’re here once again to set you off on the right path! If you want to get to know the greatest collection of rogues the Marvel Universe has ever seen, these are the stories that will bring you up to speed!
The Sinister Six have quite the strange history as their lineup has changed so many times over the course of history. But all great evil teams need to start somewhere, and when Electro, Sandman, Vulture, Kraven, Mysterio, and Doctor Octopus finally got sick of getting whooped by the web slinger on their own, they teamed up under the guidance of Octavius and formed the first iteration of the Sinister Six in the pages of Amazing Spider Man Annual #1.
Since the Sinister Six are so famous, you may be surprised to know that they essentially disappeared from comics after their first defeat in 1963. They didn’t reemerge until 1990, when Kraven was replaced by Hobgoblin after meeting a ghastly fate in Kraven’s Last Hunt.
After being defeated once again, Electro, Vulture, Mysterio, and Hobgoblin get the band back together, and after tricking a reformed Sandman to rejoin their ranks, go out to seek their revenge on their former leader Doctor Octopus in The Revenge of the Sinister Six!
Jump forward in time to a Marvel Universe where Doc Ock has defeated Peter Parker by switching their bodies thus becoming the Superior Spider-Man, willing to do things your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man would never have dreamed of! Using his unmatched skills of bio-engineering, Octavius takes control of his old Sinister Six teammates and has them do his bidding as The Superior Six.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my new favorite iteration of the Sinister Six, found within the pages of the Superior Foes of Spider-Man. This series is the sleeper-hit of the current Marvel catalogue, featuring a Sinister Six that sometimes only includes as few as Four members but is always hilarious and surprising.
(Above art by Andrew Robinson)
It’s finally Friday, and that means that its time for another comiXology guide to one of our favorite comic book characters. This week, we’re dedicated to bringing you the low-down on the man they call “The Merc With a Mouth” - the one and only Deadpool!
Thanks to his tendency to refuse to remain in one universe or timeline for any meaningful length of time, Wade Wilson is definitely one of the more confusing characters in the comic landscape. But this snarky parody of the comic book world is also one of the major reasons that he has become the beloved fan-favorite that he is today. If you feel like you need some help figuring this guy out (you aren’t alone), then read on and take a crash course into degeneracy with…
A comiXology Guide to Deadpool!
You probably already know about Deadpool’s well deserved reputation as a big ol’ jerk and generally insane individual, but where did all of this madness begin? The first appearance of the character was in New Mutants #98, as a character that seemed to have a very striking similarity to a certain DC character known as Deathstroke. Co-creator Fabian Nicieza even went so far as to provide Deadpool with the name “Wade Wilson”, after Deathstroke’s secret identity “Slade Wilson”. Although he changes drastically in the years to come, New Mutants #98 set the stage for the kick-ass character that is Deadpool.
Arguably the best iteration of the modern Deadpool that we all know and love came from his involvement in Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force. Although he dons a different costume, Deapool’s antics and sardonic wit are in full force while the he and the rest of the X-Force (a group of mutants recruited to do the dirty work the X-Men wont do) team up to stop Apocalypse by any means necessary.
Fabian Nicieza returned to the character he helped create in a major way with the funny, action-packed, and totally nuts Cable & Deadpool. A series that truly lives up to Deadpool’s reputation, this is a great place to become introduced to the hilarity and insanity that we have come to expect from Wade Wilson.
When Gerry Duggan (gerryduggan) teamed up with comedian Brian Posehn to bring us Deadpool’s current series, they obliterated the notion that Deadpool couldn’t be a strong character without a team to balance him out. This run gives us a bit of a darker take on the character, but doesn’t skip out on the comedic elements that have become Wade Wilson’s trademark. If you want to get caught up with Wade Wilson’s modern life, then this is a great place to start!
So you want to get started with the Guardians of the Galaxy?
The first thing you gotta know is these aren’t your every-day, goody-two-shoes, superheroes. The Guardians are some of the most badass space pirates this side of the Milky Way, and before they make their big screen debut, comiXology is here to make sure you’re the most well-versed person in the theater opening night.
First you gotta meet the team:
- Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite Comic #1 ft. Drax the Destroyer
- Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite Comic #2 ft. Rocket Raccoon
- Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite Comic #3 ft. Gamora
- Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite Comic #4 ft. Groot
Jump into the renowned 2008 run by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. This series put together the characters that we have all suddenly become obsessed with. You can pick it up in 25 single issues or 4 collected volumes, or for the frugal minded grab the whole thing with our Guardians of the Galaxy Bundle
Maybe you just want to get reading right now and don’t care about all that backstory. You’re the type of reader with modern sensibilities, eh? Well lucky for you GotG just got a fresh coat of paint early last year, by the man, the legend, the prolific writer and answerer of many a hair-dressing question on tumblr, brianmichaelbendis. Dive into now and you could be caught up by tonight! Pick up Vol. 3 right here.
And for the completists among us, we present to you some Universe-Expanding reads in Annihilation, where bug-like villain Annihilus enters the universe from the Negative Zone with the Annihilation Wave, a massive armada of warships. The Annihilation Wave begins to destroy anything in its path, including huge chunks of galactic civilization. Nova (Richard Rider) assembles a force to fight back. Check it out here.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock or have been frozen in a block of ice for the past couple months, you’ve probably heard a bunch about this Captain America guy, and hey, we get it, comics can be a treacherous world to navigate so we’re here to make it a bit easier for you with a comiXology Guide to Getting Started with Captain America!
Cap has had a long glorious run of protecting the American Way, but it all had to start somewhere, and way back in 1941 (that’s even before Tumblr existed!) Nazis were rolling through Europe and freedom as we know it was being threatened. Joe Simon & Jack Kirby saw the need for a new American Hero and thus Captain America was born, making his first appearance in the now iconic cover of Captain America Comics #1. This comic has the beginning of all that is Cap: The Super Soldier Program, Bucky, and the first appearance of The Red Skull (who is sporting a hell of a sweatsuit…)
Stan Lee, also with Jack Kirby, put his classic style into a retelling of Steve Rogers transformation into the First Avenger in Captain America #109
In what is now seen as the essential Captain America run, Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting brought Cap up to present time. If there is one Captain America story you are going to read this is the one.
And if you’re really just more of the type of person who wants the newest thing, Rick Remender has helmed the Captain America ship and brought along his unique sci-fi stylings. See how Steve Rogers fares when he is transported as far away from the good ol’ U.S. of A. as he has ever been before with Captain America: Castaway in Dimension Z.
That should give you a good jumping off point for all things Cap! Enjoy!