Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Kevin Winter Reviews His Three Comic Book Picks of the Week

Kevin's comic book reviews


  1. Supurbia
  2. Clone, issue 1, Image Comics, sci-fi
  3. Comeback, issue 1
To submit your own review: Write it up, email it to To submit a video review, shoot it, email it, or drop it off at the shop. OR email to set up an appointment and we'll shoot it using our camera.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Posterous

We're slowly migrating our Posterous Spaces over to Blogger. We're sad to go because we really loved Posterous. Unfortunately, Twitter hasn't told us whether or not we have a future together. :(


You can now find our comic book reviews and opinion over at See you there.

Revisiting Morning Glories

By Kevin Winter
One of my first posts was about the comic Morning Glories, one of the biggest hits in the comic industry in 2010/2011, and I wrote about how it was losing its mojo and becoming boring.  Now a few issues beyond that post I am here to provide an updated report through issue 14.

The Glory of The StoryThankfully we have gotten off of the track of each issue focusing on an individual character instead of the overall story arc with individual snippets thrown in about each character.  That long run really threw off people reading the comic and enjoying the true plot line.
Now we are into a new story arc and this one covering P.E., but of course this is not normal P.E.  But is it better than it was before?  The answer is a bit of yes and no.

For yes the answer is clear that we are beyond that horrible arc of stories and back into the more sadistic, evil teachers and innocent students fighting them.  At the same time, it has gotten a bit off track, and I think the writer has bitten off more than he can chew.

The Gory of The Story
It is turning into a Lost type comic, with multiple complicated story arcs going off at once,  with none really resolving, just getting more and more complicated.

Share Your Old Comics With Future Generations

By Kevin Winter

Today is a special post.  I will not talk about a specific series or comics.  I will not review the trends or comment on DC's new relaunch that we are well into.  Today I shall talk about what to do with your comics when you no longer have room.  Everyone will face this fact, after all, you can store only so many comics where you live.  The question becomes...

What do I do with my old comics?  
With many stores not buying comics, and very few comics worth a any money on eBay -- unless, say, we’re talking about Chew number 1 or Action Comics number 1 -- what do you do with them? Hold a yard sale and sell them for 25 cents each?

Think About Future GenerationsI would like to say that I would do something else with them.  Around the country there are several special collections of just comic books

Comic Book Covers - Good and Bad Variants

By Kevin Winter
The topic of variant covers often comes up for discussion in the store, and since many people can't make it into the store on Wednesday mornings, I will summarize how it often goes.  We often discuss which ones are worthwhile and which ones are worthless.  This topic creates some debate and not everyone agrees with each other.
Worthwhile Variant Covers

1:100 Variant Cover by Sara Pichelli - Spider-Men #5
I can see the purpose behind a variant, for example, a cover that is 1 in 50 or 1 in 100.  It is meant to be special, something that not many people will own. It should be different from the cover everyone else will get.

Review: Smallville, Season Eleven, #6

Batman goes toe to toe against Superman and stands his ground, and he does it without kryptonite. So what's his secret? You'll have to read the issue to find out.


This face off makes the whole issue. The reason is personal to Batman. Clearly, he hasn't left his emotions out of it.

Later, Lex studies the match. Who knows where this will lead.

Get Rid of Otis!

I missed a few issues, but jumped into this one for obvious reasons. There's one major flaw to be found: Otis. Otis is a mistake. Unless there's a huge plot twist involving Otis, he needs to pack his suitcases. Otherwise, at this point, he appears to be the pointless character we've already seen elsewhere. One thing is certain: The Lex Luther of Smallville would never surround himself with the likes of Otis.

Let's hope the get back to the spirit of the original Smallville television series. Let DC not fool itself, the only readers of this comic book series are the fans of that show. Don't ruin it.

Review: Daredevil End of Days #1

Look, so, the only Daredevil I've ever known is written by one man -- now don't cringe! -- Brian Michael Bendis. I've been reading Bendis since he started putting words to black and white drawings.
That being said, and by virtue of his glorious run on Daredevil with artist Maleev, there was no doubt I was going to pick up the limited series, Daredevil: End of Days, issue 1 of 8.
Don't Die, Daredevil!
Bendis and co-writer David Mack write a story dripping with words you want to hear. In the story, Daredevil dies at the hands of Bullseye. But did Daredevil mean anything to anyone? Why do so few people care? At least two men do care, and you'll meet them in this story.
One of them is reporter Ben Urich. Ben comes to terms with his feelings about his friendship with the man who is Daredevil, Matt Murdoch. But all may not be as it seems, and who is the person behind the name spoken by Daredevil as he exhaled his last breath?


The art is gritty. Is it because Hell's Kitchen is a gritty city? Or are we seeing the city the way blind attorney Matt Murdoch's alter ego, Daredevil, sees the city? It's hard to say, but either way, it's equally as hard to miss the fact that Daredevil's heart is with the people of this city.

Review of Legends of the Dark Knight #1

Legends of the Dark Knight, issue 1, hit shelves two days ago, Wednesday, October 3, 2012.
Yes, just what you needed -- another Batman book.
Except for one thing: This is just what we needed -- a Batman book you can pick up on the fly just for the love of a good Batman story, no strings attached, no need to have read the previous issue, or even the issue to come, for that matter.


Batman Learns Humility

In this first issue, in the first story, writer Damon Lindelof weaves a Batman tale that will make your jaw drop from the surprise when Batman learns a tough lesson in humility. The old adage proves true: Pride comes before the fall.
As it turns out, Lemire's quirky and wispy art -- while you might not think it a fit at first -- serves well in contrasting Batman's true frail state in contrast to his cockiness. Jose Villarubia's colors are darkly vivid as one expects in a Batman tale.

Batman Outsmarts Everyone

In the second tale, "All of The Above," Batman superior-ists will enjoy a tale of a matured Batman, a Batman who lets you think you've beat him for just the briefest of fading moments before he lets you in on the cold-as-space facts:

DC Comics' DIAL H - Issue 2 - Comic Book Review

By RonOfTheEmpire
Rating: Teen
DIAL H proves itself to be a schizophrenic rollercoaster ride, and it's fun. An out-of-shape man who knows he's wasting his life stumbles upon a phone booth that turns him into a different "hero" each time he uses it.


Each time he becomes a different hero -- "Double Bluff," "Control-Alt-Delete," "Shamanticore," and my favorite, "Iron Snail," to name a few -- he keep the memories, but slowly, seems to be losing his own identity.Still, there's nothing better than not being a loser. There's nothing better than being a hero, right?

Comic Book Review - Smallville, Season 11, Issue 2

By RonOfTheEmpire


Welcome Back, Smallville
Smallville fans rejoiced to learn that the series would continue as a comic book. Transitioning from television to comic books is nothing new; it's been done with Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse, among others (and to name all of Joss Whedon's properties).
After issue one introduced us to all our favorite characters, issue two moves faster than a speeding bullet into Lex Luthor creating conflict with Superman (Yes, in this series, Clark is finally in Superman costume)! In this issue,

Before Watchmen: Minutemen - Issue 1 - Comic Book Review

Lots of folks are not interested in reading any of the Before Watchmen series.

The series starts with Minutemen. Even Ben, the owner of Empire's Comics Vault, didn't want to read it, but he did. And he liked it. Two of the Sacramento comic book shops fans read it also, and they recorded this 3 minute 43 second video review for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.

Jacob DeSersa is the drummer of Seeker. He also hosts the geeky Pizza Party Podcast. Patrick Clarke is a permanent guest host on the Pizza Party Podcast. You'll also find Pizza Party Podcast on Facebook.

Review: Avengers vs. X-Men Issue 1 Watch on Posterous

Jacob DeSersa, drummer for Sacramento punk rock band Seeker, reviews Avengers vs. X-Men #1.

Dear Bao Bay - Be My Valentine Contest - First Place Winner

Dear Bao Bay by Rain


Bao bay,

I saw your face on a wanted poster the other day. It made me think, who is this man that haunts my thoughts?

I’ve never even met you; but I can only hope that one day we might have the chance to complicate one another.

Just envisioning you in your tight pants and Brown coat makes me tyen-shaio duh!  ~ Shiny!

Let us, you and I, find a moon to ourselves. Where we can misbehave long into the night…jen mei NAI-shing duh FWO-tzoo!

Sheh-sheh for making this ‘verse a better place!

With Love,



Congratulations, Rain, on being our First Place Winner. We love Mal too!

If you'd like more from Rain, please check out her blog, Etsy page, Flickr photostream, and Facebook page. 

Dear Ms. Kane - Be My Valentine Contest - Honorable Mention

Dear Ms. Kane by Minnie Saucedo

Ms. Kane,
Your actions as Flamebird have made you a true hero in my eyes. I know you sometimes struggle with your worth as a crime fighter since it appears Batman, Nightwing and even your partner Batwoman seem to forget everything you've done. But I haven't. I see you, Bette. And you're kind and strong and so much smarter than people believe. Bette Kane, you are the most beautiful woman—inside and out—to ever grace Gotham City's drab streets. Let me show you just how amazing you really are in my eyes... Be my Valentine? 
Sincerely yours,
E. “Minnie” Saucedo
I wish I had received a Valentine like this, so Hoorah for Bette! She's in good company, in particular, with Batman and Nightwing who also received Valentine's letters. Remember those cheesy little Valentine's cards we used to pass out in the 1st grade? Ok, last thing, we're one entry away from the First Place Winner. Get ready.

Dear Dick Grayson - Be My Valentine Contest - Honorable Mention

Dear Dick Grayson by Leilani Adams


Tights and pixie boots have never looked so good.  I'll even forgive the trip into disco revival because you became a cop in an effort to legally keep innocent people safe. 

You have always had my heart, Dick Grayson, and you will always be my favorite half of the dynamic duo.

Love always,
Leilani Adams 


Dearest Ms. Frye - Be My Valentine Contest - Honorable Mention

Dearest Ms. Frye by Angel Lopez


Dearest Ms. Frye,

Forgive me, but I must speak my mind. Our meeting, brief though it was, left the most striking impression on me. A thousand angels could sing a thousand songs across every planet in the verse and never would they match the beauty of your voice. How I long to hear it again.  

Until that time Ms. Frye, Kaylee, I must ask a most important question. On this holiday of Saint Valentine, a day honored from Earth-that-was, I beg you to accept my affections and return a wave saying you will be my valentine.

Lovingly yours,



Kaylee is the sweetest sweatheart in all the verse. 'Nuff said.

Dear Shulkie -- Be My Valentine Contest - Honorable Mention

Dear Shulkie by Brian Caylor


Dear Shulkie (can I call you Shulkie? Jen? Just She-Hulk? Okay.) --  

Dear She-Hulk, 

It’s Valentine’s Day and I just wanted to share with you a poem that I wrote just for you.

         Apples are red

         Bruises are blue

         Boogers are Green

         And so are you

Okay, I admit I’m no Shel Silverstein, but do I get an A for effort? I could settle for a B+.

Happy Valentine’s Day She-Hulk!



She-Hulk is the only one to receive two Valentines in our contest! So, in this contest, she wins the award for Best Loved Valentine. You can see how excited she is about this in the picture she took for us above. <GRIN> Both entries are funny, so be sure to read both Valentines to She-Hulk.

Dear Garrus - Be My Valentine Contest - Honorable Mention

Dear Garrus by Ariel Carman


Dear Garrus,

I've known you for a few years now but only as soldiers fighting together against a shifting enemy. 

Somehow, in the middle of all of this, I've come to care for and about you. I realized my feelings had changed when I found myself looking to see if you were safe after a battle first- spending no more time in looking than necessary, mind you, but always looking for you first

If you feel as I do, meet my eyes after the next battle- and don't look away.



For those of you unfamiliar with Garrus Vakarian, he's from the world of Mass Effect. This entry was another of our favorites. In fact, we like all the entries so much that we awarded each participant one free comic book. Lastly, you may have noticed that we've tagged all these Be My Valentine entries as Poetry. That's because love is so poetic. <BLUSH>

Dearest Dark Knight - Be My Valentine Contest - 2nd Place Winner

"An Ode to a Knight" by Jacob DeSersa


The blackest cowl upon your head

excites me like no other

your batarangs and grappling hooks

cause my heart to flutter

The greatest of hero's i would say

takes on the guise of a bat

his skills, his cunning, and charming grace

can always go un-matched

regular men and hero's alike

tremble at your very thought

the kryptonian, lantern, and atlatean too

the fear over them you've brought

you swoop over gotham, wings out stretched

instilling terror in some, hope in others at your very sight

for this is ode to you, the batman

the mightiest, and darkest, of knights


Congratulations to our 2nd place winner - Jake, the drummer in Seeker, Sacramento's own ultimate punk rock band! Even before he submitted his entry, there was no doubt in our mind that he would be writing to the Dark Knight. That's loyalty! Another post hits tomorrow. And if you missed this contest, be sure to read up on limericks for our next contest that's starting in a couple of days.

Dear She-Hulk -- Be My Valentine Contest - Honorable Mention

Dear She-Hulk by Joshua Cargain


Dear She-Hulk,

I am a 24 year old unemployed community college student. I live in a small apartment next to the mall with my room-mate and two cats. I think we should be together because you remind me of my mother.

Attached below, is my address and date of birth so you can come to my 25th birthday. No gift is required, your presence is present enough, unless you want to do your hair in a side tail and wear an off the shoulder t-shirt. If not, a tube top and a mini-skirt would be fine too.

If we were together, you could sleep on my couch, clean up after me and open my pickle jars.

Please respond to my letter, if not, I’ll just call you every hour on the hour till you pick up, or your voicemail is full. Whatever comes first…..

Love always,

Your Snuggle Bear,

Joshua Cargain


There's no doubt this one had us laughing! We still laugh when we read it. It's that good. By the way, if you're good with limericks, you'll want to keep an eye on our website and Facebook Page for this month's contest coming soon. Be sure to check out Joshua's punk rock band's Facebook Page too.

Dear Nightcrawler - Be My Valentine Contest - 3rd Place Winner

Dear Nightcrawler - By Jessica S.




It's that time of year again, 
Where in comes the pink, 
And out goes my Zen. 

Oh, who would my hero be?
I think--my comics!
An arrow hits me, 

BAMF!—and a smile once again
Fills up the panels, 
With blues that brighten.

Foreign phrases n'er ignored, 
Demonic features-
A creature with sword! 

Yet so angelic at heart, 
I know you'll say yes, 
So here is my part- 

Kurt Wagner, will you be Mine? 
I won't be alone-
(Amanda won't mind.)

A thought then fills me with dread 
Forgotten, but now,
...I'm sorry, you're dead!

Liebe Grüße,




Well, this contest was all about love, so how could we deny everyone who entered a free comic? Still, there were three that received top honors, and here's the 3rd place entry. On top of that, Jessica has the honor of being the first poem to our comics blog.

We're going to share all of the entries, one at a time, until we get to 1st place. We hope you enjoyed this one as much as we did. See you soon.

Review: Stormwatch, Issue 1

By RonOfTheEmpire

I'm curious about Stormwatch. I had never read it before this New 52 issue, so I'm unfamiliar with its previous incarnation. I am however a Martian Manhunter fan, so they've got me there.


The Stormwatch team goes on a recruiting mission, but the mission goes awry. "Apollo" spurns Stormwatch's advances and then receives another offer.

Issue one introduces you to Stormwatch's mission - "Protecting the world from alien threats" - and current threats to Earth's security.

Is Superman included as an "alien threat?" Is Stormwatch more than Earth's protector, perhaps a watchdog, protecting Earth from its own "superheroes?"


As with some other overhauled books in the New 52 library, this book offers 22 pages of introduction and set up, but it holds the promise of being an enjoyable sci-fi adventure. The issue moves at a good clip and keeps your interest. Let's hope issue 2 goes deep enough to keep us hanging on. As of this post, there are four issues available. The 5th issue hits stands in January.


Issue Date: November 2011

Rated T+


Writer: Paul Cornell

Artist: Miguel Sepulveda


Static Shock #1

Scott McDaniel's cover with Guy Majors' colors pulled me into this book. I'm a sucker for covers.


Static Shock's real name is Virgil Ovid Hawkins. He's African American and lives with his father, mother and sister. What do you know - he's not from a broken family!

Straightaway Static Shock faces unknown forces. Those unknown forces turn out to be more bad guys than one kid can handle - a crew of five baddies on Skittle-colored speeder bikes, the fish-faced menace Piranha, and uber-monster Virule.

That's a huge cast of villains for one little boy. Could Static Shock be DC's response to Spider-Man? Maybe just a little.

The Review

Static Shock is a superhero, but, sadly, I don't care about the character. The issue's pacing flows spasmodically, at times sluggish then manic. I think I would have preferred taking the first issue to get to know Virgil and his family. The issue attempts this but doesn't take enough time with it.

There's lots of static, leaving this reader in shock.

Why I Will Keep Reading

I'll pick up issue 2 for three reasons: 1. It has the potential to be a good sci-fi adventure story. 2. I'm an All Ages reader. While Rated T for Teen, the first issue comes across as an All Ages title, as opposed to a title like Red Hood, Rated T (but definitely more a Rated T+). 3. Curiosity. It had too much action, but it accomplished what it was supposed to do. It piqued my interest.

What Others Are Saying

Four issues of Static Shock are currently available. Reviews vary. IGN gives it 6.5 out of 10. CBR gives it 2.5 stars.

Dated: November 2011
Released: September 2011

Writer: Scott McDaniel and John Rozum
Pencils: Scott McDaniel
Inks: Jonathan Glapion and Le Beau Underwood
Colors: Guy Major

Top 5 Christmas Themed Comic Book Covers

By Nathan Weber

As a fan of comic books and as one of those annoying Christmas lovers, I thought it would be appropriate to inaugurate my first post on Empire’s Open Vault with a list of my top 5 favorite Christmas covers of all time and why they made my list.

#5 - Marvel Age #5 featuring Groo the Wanderer

The facial expressions of terrorized elves bring this Sergio Aragonés ‘Groo’ cover to the list.



#4 - Marvel Holiday Special #1 (2005)

This recent addition to my list is a beautiful Fantastic Four cover by Stuart Immonen.



#3 - Amazing Spider-Man #314

A classic Amazing Spider Man cover by Todd McFarlane from 1989, ‘Amazing Spider Man #314,’ always struck me as a funny take on Spider-Man. From the snow capped masthead to the expression on Santa’s face, I’ve always remembered this cover when it comes to the Christmas theme.



#2 - Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special #1

Who can forget the famous ‘Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special #1’ cover from DC’s Simon Bisley, which pushed the line, featuring Lobo holding a bloody knife and standing over a slaughtered Santa Clause. With no real context to the cover, the cover art is poised somewhere between disturbing and hitting its dark form of humor, recognizable only to those familiar with the character.


And #1 should come as no surprise...


#1 - Peter Parker #112

I even had a poster of this Rick Buckler cover that I’d pull out during the holidays for many years.


Happy Holidays everyone.



About The Author


Nathan Weber, originally from the Pacific Northwest city of Portland Oregon, where he was born and raised, currently lives in Sacramento California with his longtime girlfriend Marni, and his Calico cat Karlie in semi-retirement. Somewhat a lone wolf, Nathan enjoys his free time at home lost in his own imagination, reading science books, watching sci-fi movies, practicing Buddhism, and outside, riding his mountain bike in the natural setting of the local Discovery Park area.

Creatively, Nathan has been developing his own home brew independent comic book series called Stormseeker and its related companion material. In the past he has written under various monikers and pen names, published a number of role playing campaign books and helped playtest and write a published science fiction role playing game.

Outside of creative works, Nathan is a Graphic Designer, Digital Artist, Computer Enthusiast, Successful Business Owner, as well as being a die hard lifelong hobbyist of anything that could be considered a hobby. Recently Nathan has returned to comic book collecting as a side hobby, a hobby he’s engaged in on and off since 1982.

Twitter: @nerostorm





Supergirl #1 - Simply Good Storytelling

Supergirl #1
Story: Last Daughter of Krypton
November 2011
Rated T
Writers: Michael Green & Mike Johnson
Penciler: Mahmud Asrar
Inkers: Dan Green with Asrar
Colorist: Dave McCaig

It's simplicity is elegant. The story is poignant.

A young girl feeling lost in a nightmare awakens to an even more painful reality, and you, the reader, feel that pain. That's the story of Supergirl waking up on Earth.

Don't let the simplicity fool you. It's a powerful story you'll be glad you read, and along the way, you'll have enjoyed the perfect marriage of words, pencils, inks and colors.

That's my review. Yes, that's it. To say more would be to ruin it.


What Makes A Comic Book Title Independent?

As a reader of independent comics I am often asked the question, and often times I have to defend my answer; what makes a comic book independent?  Hopefully with this post I will help people understand more clearly what makes a comic book independent, and how that is a very fluid answer.
Image: Relic & Ego #4, published by ECV Press

It's A Matter of Opinion

If you talk to people who mainly pick up independent comics, you will find that there will be many different answers to what makes a comic book independent. What it comes down to is a question of taste, opinion, and likes and dislikes.

Now let’s get to my answer for what makes a comic book independent.  It’s more than publisher, artist, writer, or print run.  For me personally, a book is independent based on the story it is telling, the way it tells it, and a few intangibles.

Superhero Stories Are Not Independent

First off, if it is a superhero story I do not consider it independent, no matter who is publishing the story.  Just because it is outside of DC or Marvel, does not mean it is automatically independent.  A superhero story is a superhero story no matter which publisher you happen to be with.

A perfect example is Invincible by Robert Kirkman.  People will consider this to be independent, just because it is published by Image Comics.  It is not; it is a mainstream title as far as I am concerned.

Independents Push The Limits

Independent comics should push the limits of what can be told in comic format.  They should tell stories that DC and Marvel will not tell - whether it be a modern day samurai story with vampires or a science fiction epic with the classic references.

Interestingly, the nearest that DC comes to having independent titles with the relaunch is both I, Vampire and Demon Knights.  While many people consider these two titles to be part of the DC Universe, I believe they should be in their own separate worlds, telling their own stories, not interacting with the main titles of the DC Universe.

Demon Knights is a classic fantasy tale of a hero, possessed by a demon, who tries to save the day.  I, Vampire focuses on a vampire queen who has awakened with her hordes and finally rules the world, and there’s one man out to stop her.  These two titles feel like independents although they are published by DC.

The nearest that Marvel gets is the Dark Tower series and The Stand series.

Another example is Image Comics’ The Walking Dead, which I no longer consider an independent title. It has its own television show, it feels like it is no longer pushing the boundaries of zombie comics, and it feels like it will never end (an important point for independents, but that is for another post).

What makes a book independent to you?


About The Author

Kevin Winter is someone with an opinion about almost everything. A comic fan of several years, he can be seen around Empire's Comics Vault on Wednesdays, and generally spouting an opinion (if anyone wants to hear it or not)...  also trying not to get on Ben's bad side.


Addiction in Comic Books and in the Real World

by Aaron Myers


Addiction in Comics

Comic books have explored superheroes battling addiction.

Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy was revealed to be a heroin addict in a Green Lantern comic book from 1971 (Albert). Although, Green Lantern and friends help him overcome his addiction, it is the first time we see hardcore drug addiction in a DC comic book (O’Neil 1971).

Marvel’s Spider-Man battled with addiction to power. Spider-Man bonds with intergalactic goo, an alien Symbiote. The Symbiote improves his superhuman powers, however the sentient alien changes his persona (Raimi 2007). He loses self control, acts on impulse, and becomes vengeful. He loses his personal identity. This specific story embodies addiction and the value of his life to quit using the Symbiote. A Spider-Man character, by the name of Eddie Brock, becomes the suit’s new host and the reader witnesses how his addiction to the Symbiote turns him into a homicidal shell with no self control (Raimi 2007).

More obviously - and probably the example that springs to most minds - Marvel’s Tony Stark, or Iron Man, battled an addiction to alcohol.

Real World Addiction

We frequently witness addiction in the lives of famous actors/actresses and musicians. We watch their lives being slowly torn away, losing the most precious thing every human being holds - his life.

Some of America’s greatest popular figures have been taken by the blight of their addiction. Chris Farley, River Phoenix, John Belushi, Kurt Cobain (contained lethal doses of heroin in his system before fatal self inflicted gunshot wound), DJ Screw, DJ AM (seen recently in Iron Man 2, before his death), Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, and many more have succumbed to death from drug addictions. Most of America has witnessed the warning signs of addiction from the living actor and actress, Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan. Addiction is an illness that challenges one’s value of life.

These examples demonstrate the horrors of letting addiction take over. Addiction will not necessarily turn a man into a murderous beast, but it will transform a man into something he is not, an entirely different person.


About The Author


Aaron Myers was born in Santa Clara, CA and currently lives in Sacramento. He is a student at Sacramento State University and plans to graduate next year with a Bachelors in Business Administration and History. Aaron has served as the RAW City Director for Sacramento. "RAW:natural born artists is an independent arts organization, for artists, by artists."

Myers says about himself: "I hope to use my Business knowledge to get into the Import/Export Business. This will hopefully grant me the opportunity to travel the world for work. I may use my History knowledge to teach, research trends for businesses, maybe do some journalism, or if nothing goes my way, there is always the option of diving head first into my favorite addiction, comic books. You may find me next to that barking Spiderman guy that we all know and love for his wackiness, wearing a second hand store's Green Lantern costume shouting obscenities at passing cars, while I slip ever more gently into a delusional disarray of comic proportions (comedic or dark).

I have a wonderful girlfriend, that treats me better than I deserve to be treated. I was afraid she may think ill of my comic book collection, however she embraces and encourages it. She is actually right by my side, most of the time, buying whatever graphic novel catches her eyes.

What Aaron is in to: Graphic novels (more interested in the darker comics, than superhero comics), gardening (don't laugh, it is relaxing), gaming on my Xbox 360, writing, and traveling, whenever possible. I usually put staying healthy or working out on that list, but I'm not going to BS you guys.  

Abnormal Like Captain Atom

by RonOfTheEmpire

Dated: November 2011
Released: September 2011

Writer: J.T. Krul
Artist: Freddie Williams II
Colorist: Jose Villarrubia



Pit one giant robot against one atomic energy man and you'll have a super-sciencey throw down.

Best of all, the combination of Williams' art and Villarrubia's colors cast a spell on your eyes, so that they won't want to turn away from the page. I'm no art specialist, but the softness of the colors has the feel of the most elegant colored pencils ever (if that makes any sense at all).

Captain Atom saves the day more than once, however as a result of using his powers, a serious problem develops.

For more background, read the awesome Captain Atom review at


There's no doubt in my mind that I'll pick up this book again - for the art and colors alone. At the same time, Krul also captured my interest. For a reason I'm unclear about, I care about Captain Atom. Perhaps it's because, his power - which could equally be called his "condition" - prevents him from leading a normal life, leaving him feeling abnormal.

And who doesn't feel like that.

Not Your Grandpa's Aquaman

By RonOfTheEmpire


Artist: Ivan Reis; Colorist: Rod Reis

Trust Geoff Johns' writing. You read and loved his run on The Flash and Green Lantern. Don't doubt him now (Sure, there was the Green Lantern movie bomb, but that can hardly be blamed on Geoff).

Immediately, in the first issue, Geoff turns the reader's preconceived, ill-conceived and misconceived notions upside down. The writing is art, the art is poetry, and the colors are vibrant. This is the Aquaman you were meant to read (if you can find it!). Aquaman is portrayed as strong, commanding and decisive. He is, after all, the ruler of 70% of the planet (as some quaintly refer to it, the seven seas). It's about time he gets some respect, and oh! he does.

If you need more information, Newsarama's interview with Geoff Johns will shed more light on what you need to know about Aquaman. The book has even received some positive buzz from and

All I can tell you is this: If Aquaman can eat fish and chips, then you can read Aquaman #1. Issue #2 hits stands on October 26, 2011.


Got Something To Say?

If you're a Sacramento, CA, local and have something to say about comics, pop-culture, the comic book industry or whatever, consider adding to this reader-driven blog. Write your post and email it to For more information, please review the submission guidelines.

Next Men Saved Comic Book Storytelling in the 90s

By Ben C. Scwhartz

The 90’s Hottest Indie Comic

In the early 90’s the comic book industry was beginning to over-saturate the market. Artists were carrying the weight of making writers’ stories readable. It was in this climate that John Byrne stood out with his independent property Next Men.


What Next Men Is About

Set in the modern time, we are introduced to five kids who find themselves unexpectedly freed from a Utopian, virtual reality and set loose upon a world that has never seen superpowers. There are only 30 issues in the original series, but in that short time, we really come to care about these misplaced characters and the way our world treats them.

Byrne holds nothing back - corporations, secret government organizations, marketing a new super hero team, corruption on all levels, our fear of people capable of powered feats, the interaction of these five heroes with society and between themselves in a world they just don’t understand,  and most importantly, how super powers would actually work in the real world.


Read Next Men ASAP

Just recently IDW has been reprinting the original series. In two graphic novels you can read the complete series in black and white. The lack of color does not detract from this hard hitting series, but if you prefer to have it, the first volume of the color edition is available and a second one is soon to come. This is a personal favorite of mine and is a nice superhero book without the need to read any other titles to understand the world. Visit your local comic shop for a copy.

The original series ended with a cliffhanger, and now 15 years later, the story continues in a second series. You can jump into the new series and catch up, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Start from the beginning.


About The Author

Ben C. Schwartz is the owner of Empire's Comics Vault in Sacramento, CA. He also owns and operates his own comics publishing company, ECV Press. He loves reading comics, writing comics and talking about comics (which he does on and

Has Morning Glories Lost Its Mojo?

by Kevin Winter

Morning Glories is one of the more controversial comics on the market today. While not as controversial as Crossed, it still goes in a direction you would not find at Marvel or DC. But the point I am going to bring up today is this:

Has Morning Glories lost its mojo?


Art by Rodin Esquejo

It used to be exciting, with some action. The story used to move along a specific point, with excellent cliff hangers, but several issues ago we left a major cliff hanger right around the time we would have found out a major secret. Suddenly the book changed course, featuring single issue character stories. It began to focus on the individual students. While I am not against that, perhaps spreading those stories out, one or two at a time, would have been better.

Bring the Glory Back

These issues have done more to derail the story and the flow of the comics than anything else they could have done. It feels as if Morning Glories is losing the mojo that it had at the beginning. Hopefully they will leave these character driven issues and get back to what made it great before indie readers move on to something else.

If Morning Glories continues along these lines, then I feel we will not get to see the end because quite a few people will abandoned the book.


[Read more posts by Kevin]


About The Author

Kevin Winter is someone with an opinion about almost anything. If you find him around town, you can ask for an opinion and he will give you an honest one.  A graduate of Sacramento State, he spends his time telling people they are wrong, writing letters to his national leaders, and generally being a pain in the ass.  A comic fan, not for life, but for several years, he can be seen around Empire's Comics Vault on Wednesday's during the day, and generally spouting an opinion (if anyone wants to hear it or not)...  also trying not to get on Ben's bad side.

The Mysterious Tale of the Two Marvels 2003 and 2004 Newsstand Error Variants

By Matt Powell

Almost a decade ago, Marvel corporation created yet another marketing strategy to entice readers into purchasing comics. Particular issues of some rather famous titles direct market editions were lowered to $0.09 cents (in 2002), $0.25 cents (in 2003) and $0.50 cents (in 2004).

These books are easily identified by the large circle on the cover containing the updated price.   However - and this is important - the newsstand versions of the same books would retain their original newsstand price points. So, the reader had a choice: Pay the heavily discounted price for a direct market copy, or pay the over-inflated newsstand price.

'Modern Discount Marvels'

A few years later, these ‘sets’ of issues were called the ‘Modern Price Variants’ or ‘Modern Discount Marvels’ and included:

• Avengers #77 (1998 series) March 2004


• Daredevil #41 (1998 series) March 2003


• Fantastic Four #60 (1998 series) Sept 2002


• Incredible Hulk #55 (2000 series) Aug 2003


• Uncanny X-men #423 (1963 series) Jul 2003


• Namor #1 (2003 series) June 2003* (it should be noted that the newsstand version of this book has never been found and it’s doubtful that it was ever printed)

Normally, this would be a boring recount of one of the many marketing tales from Marvel comics; however, something interesting happened:

An Error Was Discovered

Unbeknownst to the comic forums (and just about everyone else), the first of two Newsstand Error Variants had been found.  Avengers #77 Newsstand Error Variant was discovered just mere weeks after original publication in the first parts of 2004.  Below recounts a tale from the dealer who saw the Avengers variant first and decided to add in some research ….

…I can confirm that this issue did in fact go to most European, and at least one Pacific, overseas military location. It was pulled from at least two locations and replaced with a "normal" newsstand version due to a "printing error" according to the area manager of the military Bookmarts in southern Germany. That explains why I saw a "normal" issue at another base. The issue was also distributed at military bases in England and at one location stayed on the racks for the entire month before being pulled for #78. I've had no confirmation that anything other than the "normal" issue was offered at stateside military locations.”

 Since this quote, four copies of the Avengers #77 Error did, in fact, come from the Eastern seaboard of the U.S.

Then again, in late 2005, a random collector contacted one of the many comic forums with a story of a rather unique find.  He had reported that he had found a copy of Uncanny X-men #423 (UXM) printed with both the discount price and the newsstand prices on the cover.  The book was apparently found in the dollar bin at his local comic shop.  Over the next couple of years, members of this single comic book forum started a search for UXM #423 newsstand error variant (and the Avengers #77 Error).

To date, only 6 confirmed copies of the UXM #423 Newsstand Error Variant and 8 confirmed copies of the Avengers #77 Newsstand Error Variant have been found and for more than five years only a select handful of people, close to variant collecting, even knew about them. Then in 2011, the Certified Guarantee Company (CGC) formally recognized each of these books as true variants belonging to each of their respective series. The Avengers book belonged to the 1998 series and the UXM book belonged to the 1963 series.


Putting It All In Perspective

To put the rarity of these comics into perspective, UXM #423 for the direct market had a publishing run greater than 90,000.  In fact, this book was part of the ‘quarter comics’ effort to promote the new X-Men 2 movie released in May 2003. Since the direct market was priced at $0.25 each, the newsstand market was purposely limited in release with the expectation that a $2.25 price point would be passed up in favor for the quarter comic; hence costs were saved and a normal newsstand of 3000 to 4000 copies was halved.

  During the printing process for the newsstand cover, a single lot of covers had the $0.25 cent bullet (circle) added.  This lot was bundled, shipped to Diamond Distributers and provided only to Walden books - the only bookstore to receive the newsstand edition.

Of the UXM #423 error copies found to date, three have been confirmed to come from the Michigan area. One could surmise that the single lot of error books was in fact, sent to the Michigan diamond distribution network of perhaps only a 100 or so. And of those that were placed on the newsstand at Walden books, how many were actually purchased and saved in someone’s collection? I’m betting not many.

So in the end, what makes these books so interesting? Printing errors can be fairly common, but errors that are actually released to the public and sold as final are not. Avengers #77 Newsstand Error Variant and Uncanny X-Men #423 Newsstand Error Variant are comics, that if you ever find them … you should probably hold on to.


About Matt Powell
Yes, I’ve been collecting comics since I was a kid and have found that this has been my only real, true hobby.  I’m 43 with two boys of my own and specialize in making my wife angry with the number of books I purchase, read, and save.  I collect several registry series, including but not limited to, Lady Mechanika, Cursed Pirate Girl, and my own personal favorite ROM, Spaceknight.  I work in tech and own a small winery in Lodi, CA.  So make sure you tell me that you collect comics, I’ll ask you a question, and then give you a discount on your wine purchase.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Post Ideas


We came up with a few ideas for posts that might work for you. Please stick with topics with geek appeal, like comics-related topics. Here are our ideas:
  1. Review a comic, movie, podcast, web comic
  2. Create a Top 10  or Top 3 list of favorite comics news sites, comics released this week, etc.
  3. Discuss a comics industry issue
  4. Will digital comics kill the comic book shop?
  5. Is comic collecting a thing of the past?
  6. What to do when your comics collection takes over your house
  7. Best Software for Cataloguing Your Collection
  8. If comic books had soundtracks like movies...
  9. Who would win in a fight between Spider-Man and Nightcrawler?
  10. Women in Comics
What else? What would you be interested in reading? Let us know in the comments.

O.M.A.C. #1 - Rollercoaster Ride

by RonOfTheEmpire
Dated: November 2011
Released: September 2011
Story and Art by: Keith Giffen and Dan DiDio
Inks: Scott Koblish
Colors: Hi-Fi
O.M.A.C., like an army tank on legs, crashes through a mission. Some freakish creatures attack, then "BARR-SOOM," he disposes of them. Something or someone controls him. Who or what could it be? All the while O.M.A.C.'s peacockish mohawk blazes overhead like a national banner.


O.M.A.C. reads like a sci-fi rollercoaster ride - you get in the car, it clanks to the summit and then Vrooom! From another perspective, O.M.A.C. feels like a one-man A-Team, and that's for real!

Reading is believing. Read this book for a rollercoaster ride experience. This one goes on my comic book saver. It's 100% saver worthy.
Incidentally, if you'd like a bit more background, you can read the O.M.A.C. review on Dubiosity.

Increasing to Two Posts Every Week

One post a week. That's all we wanted.

Now, though, we have our ducks in a row, so starting this week, you'll be able to read a post on Tuesday and a post on Saturday.
We'll keep this up as long as we have enough submissions. If we don't have enough for two posts in a week, you'll still always receive one post on Tuesday - and that you can count on!

Agree or Disagree But Please Do So Respectfully

In the spirit of open disclosure, we're pleased to let you know that we've just added commenting guidelines to Empire's Open Vault.
Perhaps you're wondering why?
Well, that's an easy one. Every blog should have commenting guidelines. But more than that, it's because comic book fans are a passionate group of people who love debating the Pros and Cons of books, movies, music, pop culture and so on, and as the fates would have it, we don't all see eye-to-eye.
So, to honor all the contributors who put thought, time and effort into writing and submitting a post or comment, we decided to write down some basic rules of play for the "honorable treatment of contributors."

Is Chew Still An Independent Title?

by Kevin Winter
Chew On This 
Chew is one the biggest indie titles in comics. It started off the way most indie books start - without a lot of fanfare or press. But it soon caught on, and all of a sudden, everyone wanted a copy of Chew.
What It’s About
For those of you that have been hiding under a rock - or in DC's comics - you should know the basic storyline of the comic. A man who works for the FDA can tell the life story of food, and other things, just by eating them. His special ability is only known by a few people.

Is Chew Still An Independent Title?
Today I am going to try to tackle a difficult question. Is Chew an independent title still?  Many people will argue that it is, but I might have a different answer.