Comic Book Awards for August

~Nandor Shaffer

Hello all! It’s quite nice of you to be taking the time out of your probably busy day to look at what I like to call my personal *drum roll, please* COMIC BOOK AWARDS (or CBA’s, if you prefer)! This is a monthly project I put together, and a thing I’ve done for a while now where, out of the ten-plus individual comic book titles I purchase every month, I assign an award to the comic I deem worthy of it. There are four award slots: Cover of the Month, Art of the Month, Story of the Month, and finally the most coveted, Issue of the Month. You’ll happen to see a couple of introductory sentences preceding the award ceremony noting what’s been taking place in a good amount of my titles for that month and then following each award winner I’ll do my best to explain my reasons for why that comic book issue deserved that particular award above all other competing contenders (and I apologize in neglecting to share my explanations for why the winners received an award in last month’s installment).

I’m aware I am not coming from a truly objective stance, as I can’t afford to read or buy all the many, many comic books that hit retailers each consecutive month, but I hope my Comic Book Awards still inform, entertain, and maybe even help you decide which comic you should give a shot. Additionally, I’d like to let you know that when December comes around, be ready for my annual COMIC BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARDS (that’s something else, I assure you). Finally, I want to thank Mr. Troy Christensen for being kind enough to give me a column on his website to post these. And so, here are the Comic Book Awards for the month of August…

As with any month of comics, a lot occurred in August regarding our favorite characters, but nothing too remarkable – with a few exceptions. After a one month hiatus, Hulk returned this month with a new writer taking over after Mark Waid’s short-lived run by the name of Gerry Duggan. Whether Duggan or someone at Marvel Comics deliberately chose to make Hulk sport a Mohawk hair dew, I don’t know (whoever did needs to leave the book), but it’s regrettable that’s not the only thing not good about the issue. The Uncanny Avengers are recovering after last issue’s climactic finale, teenage Cyclops is stranded with his dying father on a perilous planet, Aquaman takes a stand against the Chimera monster, and the 10th Doctor (from the fantastic TV show Doctor Who) in own his comic figures out what or who might be threatening planet Earth, just to let you in on a few things without spoiling it for you. Captain America #23 contained major revelations as well.

But out of these and other nominees, which were the best?

Cover of the Month Award: Hulk #5


Cover Artist: Alex Ross

It’s not every month you have the privilege of owning a painting by superstar artist Alex Ross of the Hulk. Ross is a current comic book legend, and the cover of Hulk #5 is one out of countless examples backing that statement up (if you need more proof, type in DC Comics’ Kingdom Come or his covers for Marvel Comics’ Earth X epic in Google Search). His cover does the green goliath justice by having him positioned to where he literally looks like he’s going to smash through the page. It is a lifelike piece of unparalleled art that is great to examine. Too bad the cover for Hulk #5 is the only thing incredible about the issue.

Art of the Month Award: Avengers #34


Penciler: Leinil Francis Yu

Inker: Gerry Alanguilan

Colorists: Sunny Gho & Matt Milla

When you flip the pages of Avengers #34, your eyes see what superhero comic book art is really supposed to look like. Leinil Francis Yu’s pristine handiwork is hard to pass over without acknowledging the care and detail present in each panel. He pencils characters in this issue with strength, and everything else with a crisp quality. His facial and body motions convey honesty, showing emotionally what the writer intended to get across to the reader. Yu’s brilliant art is further amplified by the inker and colorists’ admirable assists.

Story of the Month Award: New Avengers #23 (“All The Angels Have Fallen”)


Writer: Jonathan Hickman

If it was your last day to live, what would you do? Where would you go? Visionary and scribe extraordinaire Jonathan Hickman asks the Illuminati, a clandestine band of heroes, that very question. But it’s not a metaphorical or day-dreaming query; this is, sadly, for real. I could say more, though you need to read New Avengers #23 for yourself to experience the drama it musters. In fact, if you don’t care about comics at all, you still don’t have any excuse for missing out on possibly the greatest comic book story in all of history (I’m not kidding). Since #1, this book has left me in awe after almost each issue and #23 is a turning point for the title that’ll leave you startled. “All The Angels Have Fallen” is a quiet, sobering tale that will not let you go; some heroes regret, some heroes lose hope, and a king weeps.

Issue of the Month Award: Avengers #34 (“The Last Avenger”)


Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Penciler: Leinil Francis Yu

Cover Art: Leinil Yu and Sunny Gho

This issue of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers witnesses the satisfying conclusion to a thrilling time-traveling plot that started a few months ago in Avengers #29. Captain America has been thrust into an unknown future, and in Avengers #34 he makes a decision, as well as an inspiring speech worth saluting to, that relays why he is who he is and what he stands for in a terrific, fascinating approach. You can’t deny Hickman’s profound, clever authorship or Yu’s excellent cover and interior artwork in this issue. Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers/New Avengers grand story is ever-growing, and by the looks of the cliffhanger ending of Avengers #34, he shows no signs of slowing down. It’s just going to get more awesome, if that’s even possible with how awesome it’s already been, from here on out.

Thanks for checking out my awards out and check back sometime next month for September’s Comic Book Awards! Until then, I, and hopefully you, will continue to be reading comics!

Check out Phantasm Adventures IV

Welcome to the world of Phantasm Adventures IV! This is the first of many books that will help you play this fantasy role-playing game. Use this book to generate a character for the game. It contains:
• 10 Player Races
• 75+ Background Picks
• 6 Factions, each with 100 levels
• 6 Professions
• 200+ skills
• 25+ Experience Goals
. . . And all the rules you need to play the game!

All the rules necessary to create endless combinations of fantastic characters:



Saving Everquest II

As many of you know, I am a big fan of the Sony MMO game called Everquest II.  I started playing the game in early November of 2004 and have been with the game over the last 10 years.  In the early days, the game was tough and arduous, with many game rules that made players work in groups and devise tactics and strategies to survive in the world of Norrath.  Death penalties were stiff, and the amount of experience points to level was high.  Grinding levels, even with quests, took weeks for players to achieve.

Fighting with the Guardian

Over the years the game has seen many producers and game directors, with each succeeding team wanting to add new things to the game.  Everquest II sadly decided to give away free things to entice players to stay.  Their philosophy seemed to be feeding candy to starving children. Instead of giving out hardy meals that built strong muscles, they gave out sweets that simply fattened the lethargic player base.  Many producers simply doubled the bonuses of items from the last set, tripling or quadrupling the monsters strengths knowing full well the free gear more than made up for the difficulty.

Every new expansion that came out simply made the game easier, turning the beloved franchise into a glorified chat channel. Much of the game is now more of a house decorating simulation than it is about hiking into the back country to fight monsters.  Gone are the days of arduous travel, now replaced with teleportation bells scattered literally on every street corner. Gone are the days when a city was vibrant filled with hundreds of characters — all of that being stolen by the endless freebies of the guilds.

No longer is it necessary to seek out crafters, as spells and other items are handed out freely through horrible game mechanics such as the Spell Assistant, Loyalty Points, or the Crafting Assistants.  Sadly along with the demise of the crafters, the need to harvest has been utterly gutted by Roving Goblins that do all of it with only needing to click mouse a few times.

So how can we save Everquest II?  Its simple, but like an overweight person with the decision to get healthy, the actions are going to be painful. But its either set things right or just give up and wait for the heart attack.  Its not if, but when. Don’t let the game slowly fade away and become the next Vanguard!

EQ2 Guys

First we need to strip all the free stuff from the game.  Get rid of the Spell Assistants and their crafting counterparts.  Stop the travesty of the goblins doing all the harvesting — get players back into the field picking, pulling, and chopping.  Flush all of the tertiary coins down the toilet — its platinum or nothing.  Everything is earned and nothing is given freely.

Limit double or bonus experience to once or twice a year — during a real holiday.  Everyone can agree Halloween is a great times for this.

Limit maximum of three concurrent characters on the same IP — this will stop multiboxers and all of the troubles they have caused. If a family wants to game together, then certainly three slots should be more than enough.  A dispensation can allow additional characters to a single IP but this must be authorized by Sony.

Put GMs back in the game and make sure they have the power to kick unruly and brooding trolls.  Too often gamers are allowed to say the most vile and horrible things, knowing all to well that Sony has no presence in their games.  A few examples go a long way in enforcing gaming behavior.  Stick to your guns too — ban IPs to those who are just cruel, merciless, and revolting.


I would really like to see subscriptions come back in full force and get away from the free to play aspect — it is just more trouble than its worth, but I am sure Sony makes good money on the supposedly “Free” game.  At least get away from selling aspects of the game that matter — keep the cotton candy, sugar coated vanity stuff.  Nothing worse than to see a 5th level character on an epic mount.  Every character earns his or her own keep — it doesn’t matter how long you have played the game as a player.  Each time is a challenge, not a free giveaway.

Guilds are far too powerful for what their original intention was designed for.  Get rid of most the amenities and force the players back into cities. 

Get rid of a teleportation bell on every corner and do away with any sort of instantaneous travel.  Flying birds and their towers can stay as that was an original concept, but get the boats working again.  Make people travel to go places; not an automatic jump — get the wizards and druids porting again!!

All of this can be accomplished if we make the tough choices.  Let your voice known to the powers at Sony and Everquest II. We can take this game back and make it the glory it was in 2005.

City of Heroes?

Has anyone heard rumors that City of Heroes was going to be relaunched?  The article I read, and I do not have a link to it, said the server data was still intact and old characters were still viable.  Perhaps this is nothing more than wishful thinking.  I had great fun in the game and thought the game was prematurely closed.

We want our City of Heroes returned!