This Weekend’s Favorite Free Roku ON-DEMAND channels and WHY!

This Weekend’s Favorite FREE Roku ON-DEMAND channels and WHY!

 

PBS-

A CHEF’S LIFE – All 13 episodes of the first season of this Farm to Table restaurant series is available. Following Chef Vivian Howard’s journey to establish her dream restaurant in the small southern town where she was born. Recommended, Grade: B.

GREAT PERFORMANCES- A bevy of great filmed theatrical performances among the highlights Patrick Stewart (of Star Trek fame) stars as the title character in MACBETH, and David Tenant (of Doctor Who fame) stars as the young, tragic prince in HAMLET.

MASTERPIECE – Sports some of BBCs best programs, including SHERLOCK

 

HISTORY-

Full episodes of PAWN STARS, INVENTION USA, PAWNOGRAPHY, TOP SHOT, ULTIMATE SOLDIER CHALLENGE, HUMAN WEAPON, THE UNIVERSE, 10 THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT, FOOD TECH & STAN LEE’S SUPERHUMANS.

A&E-

Full episodes of BARTER KINGS, BILLY THE EXTERMINATOR, STORAGE WARS, LONGMIRE, EXTREME SELL THIS HOUSE, and SHIPPING WARS

 

If you own a Roku you can sign up for these channels here:

http://www.history.com/roku-channel

http://www.aetv.com/roku-channel

http://www.pbs.org/roku/home/

 

ENJOY!!

WIZARD WORLD Philadelphia 2012 Convention! Pt 2 of 2!

Well finally the much prophesied final part of my Wizard World Philadelphia 2012 coverage is here. You can see the first part here.

First some sights of us gassing up and on the road to Philly:

So finally done with the “hard-traveling” heroes bit (i.e. the road trip pics), and I already told you about getting to the con itself, and the lines… so we can get to the meat and potatoes…onto the interviews!!!

One of the first creators I ran into at the convention, was the LOADED BARREL Studios table, which was nicely located near the entrance. Their comic, BRIELLE AND THE HORROR, was one of the first comics I picked up, and was one of the first creators I interviewed at my first convention back in 2007. (that’s a lot of firsts :))

So it was a bit appropriate after being off the convention circuit for just about five years, that the first people I should run into should be LOADED BARREL studios. Kudos to the young lady who called us over, or I would have no doubt walked past obliviously. I reviewed their first issue, on this blog years ago and was quite impressed by it. I’m a fan of photo-manipulated comics, and have never seen it done as well as the team of Jared Barel, Jordan Barel, and Alex Goz do it.

So it’s good to know they have since finished BRIELLE AND THE HORROR, and have a new series THE GREY out as a graphic novel. Definitely looking forward to picking it up and you should be too. It doesn’t appear to be available on Amazon yet but you can order it here. I’m looking forward to what the future brings for this company.

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Next up, after some meandering and wandering, I talked to the gang at POWER COMIX with their new kids comic SAGA OF THE POWER HEROES. Following up on that, Spoke to Jim Demonakos of the band KIRBY KRACKLE, and listened to his latest CD.

This was Jim’s first show at Wizard World Philly, and I thought the portable players/listening section he had setup was a nice touch. However being the founder of his own quite successful convention, Emerald City Comic Con, as well as a successful band, Jim is no stranger to conventions or great ideas. The music of Kirby Krackle being proof on both fronts, and comes recommended. You can sample the music and get your CD here.

On the video front, I met Ryan Cole, the cinematographer and Joe Parascand, who plays Sheriff Tom, one of the stars of the film MARY HORROR. Again a nice setup, with a multi-display arrangement to showcase their horror film. A horror film you can find out more about at MARY HORROR.

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My next interview at the con was Artist/co-creator Frankie B. Washington of the quite impressive web-comic ROBOT GOD AKAMATSU. The series done with writer co-creator James Biggie is a nice take on the Giant Robot genre that I haven’t seen before, and highlighted by great visuals, going by his gray-scale drawings.

With movement toward animation and merchandising, this is a series and a creative team to watch. And you can do so here! (One word regarding the site, the artwork there is colored a little dark, maybe even a bit muddy, so you lose the sense of the great line work and gray-scale artwork that they had on display at the convention. So my only caveat to the creators would be think about showcasing their linework/gray-scale art a bit more on the site or work on tweaking the coloring, as I feel the artist’s work gets completely gutted by the current coloring process. Other than that, well worth a look.)

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One of the other interviews of the day, and one of my few purchases was from Shawn Alleyne’s PYROGLYPHICS Studios. PYROGLYPHICS consists of creators Joseph Currie, Koran Curtis, Stanley Weaver, Charlie Goubile, James Mason and the aforementioned Shawn Alleyne and together they’ve just launched a title called STREET TEAM. Highlighted by simply gorgeous art, their post-modern comic is equal parts martial arts, manga/anime tinged, masked heroes, video-games and good old fashioned action. Toss in they also offered a special that included two huge prints, magnets, and postcards, and it was an easy buy.

Now the comic looks like it may just be a one-shot and a spring board for the video game, but I hope not. I hope we can look forward to quarterly or annual issues of STREET TEAM. Well to get your copies of STREET TEAM and find out more go bug Mr. Alleyne himself here or the Street Team crew here.

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I also had the chance to meet the talented husband and wife duo of Jerry and Penelope Gaylord. They have very distinct styles to one another, but very complimentary and very good. See for yourself at IDENTITY COMICS! Tell ’em HT sent ya!

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One of the joys for me of going to these shows is discovering a talent, an artist I was unaware of. So it’s with great pleasure that I came across the artwork of Laura Guzzo (kudos to her friend, Michael I think, who did a great job promoting her and singing her praises). Not only is she an ASTOUNDING artist, but her print prices are ridiculously reasonable.

You need to run, don’t walk to her website (well considering this is the web you don’t have to walk or run, try clicking here :)) and see her great artwork and purchase some at her Etsy store. She’s definitely going to be working for the big comic companies in no-time. Specifically she has an interesting and unique vision, that would make her a strong cover artist. I look forward to seeing her upcoming work.


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Well kids, that’s a wrap for this installment. All in all a fun convention, and I hope I’ve pointed you to some talent to familiarize yourself with. And if I do help turn you on to some new talent, just let them know that Heroic Times sent ya! :)

Thanks again for visiting and I’ll leave you with a couple pictures from the con, most notably the Philly version of Black Widow,, which I have to tell you… is a pretty awesome version. Grrrowwlll. :)

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In closing huge kudos to Jerry Milani of Wizard World for a fantastically well publicized, and well organized show!

And lest I forget, for anyone who I didn’t cover, please chalk that up to my head and not my heart, more than likely I didn’t have your complete contact info when time came to put this together. Just leave me a comment here, or email me if I gave you one of my business cards and we’ll get that corrected asap.

Thanks to everyone who made the show a great time for all involved! That’s all folks, go out there and be good to each other.

WIZARD WORLD PHILADELPHIA COMIC-CON 2012 Convention Coverage

Just back from the Wizard World Philly Con. Due to pure economics (factors external to Wizard World, sold out hotels, exorbitant remaining hotel and parking prices) one day, Saturday, was the sole day I could be there.

But it was by all appearances a packed event, well attended. They had people lining up inside in one of the upper floors which is a nice change from other Conventions I’ve attended where the line is outside.

That said the line/lines were quite confusing and quite full. Luckily the con is staffed with helpful volunteers who are on hand to direct the stymied. Plus the lines while packed, seemed to be moving, In the future I would just suggest a clearer designation of what each line is and where it is, as they tended to run into each other and be a bit of a cluster.

However their organization for press/attendees was excellent. A helpful volunteer directed us to the press sign-in, and we were able to walk right up, get our credentials, and walk right in. It’s obvious Wizard World Philly has put some thought into their entrance process, and the interior queuing station, and the press/attendee entrance are huge improvements over your father’s con. :)

Once entered the hall itself is quite large, filled with a nice mix of retailers/resellers, artists, celebrity signings (The big draw of the Convention floor. The lines for Chris Hemsworth and Stan Lee were getting substantial even before 1030am), and a smattering of costume wearers (Cos-players as they are known). Two of the most impressive were a Blade and a Black Widow. Both really looked the part, the guy playing Blade would have given Wesley a run for his money, and the woman playing Black Widow, definitely had the assets to pull off the skin tight costume. :)

There was a 1960s era Batmobile there, recreation or real, and it was manned by a suitably out of shape TV era Batman, he made Adam West look positively herculean. But at least the female Robin and the Batgirl with him, were well fit.

But overall there were less costumes there than I expected, though to be fair, it was just cranking up when I was taking off, and people were still pouring in.

The big draw for me however was just walking through artist alley. The legendary George Perez was there, and from door open, had a line. Greg Capullo, was another one who was mobbed from moment one. I tended to leave the big draws alone, and was more interested in the under-patronized artist.

Next installment will bring you some of those discoveries.

But all in all WIZARD WORLD PHILADELPHIA COMIC-CON is a good local convention. If you are in Philly, it’s no reason not to show your face, unless of course you have to deal with the inexplicable gridlock caused by some good old boy/frat boy street demonstration that was bringing traffic on the way to the convention to a standstill. :)

But for people coming from out of town, unless money is no object, the combination of tolls, parking and inflated hotel and everything else prices, may make it a bit of a money pit. Which even the best of Conventions are, though the location and prices of downtown Philly ratchets that up into the stratosphere.

But external costs aside, which is beyond the control of WIZARD WORLD ,(with the exception of tickets, which are reasonable) it’s a well organized event. Check back for part II as I cover some of the intriguing creators met at Wizard World 2012.

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The 2nd and Final Part of the convention coverage has been posted and you can find it here! Enjoy, I had a blast putting it together!

2012 MOVIE Review : THE Verdict is in! AVENGERS… Avenged!!! :)

You are reading this either because you saw the film and want to compare your experience with others, or haven’t seen the film, and want to get a general idea of what people thought of it. I’ll answer both demographics, without going into details about the film.

I think most of you coming to this blog know, my grumpy persona aside I’m not a contrarian. I’m not one of these IMDB idiots who rate all films either 1 or 5 (on a 5 star system, I use a 4 star system), the concept of grading and gradations seemingly lost on them.

That said neither am I a bandwagon jumper who is going to praise a film when it’s trendy to do so, and eviscerate it when it is trendy to do so.(SUPERMAN RETURNS and TITANIC being two movies with more than their share of flip-floppers).

I often listen to pod-casts, and it is amazing how often you can hear one person excited by a film, but then his friends don’t like the film, so you can hear the person backtrack from his/her position, so they can be in line with the likes of their ‘friends’.

An anthropologist might define it as a clannish race survival technique (“Bubba let’s go lynch that thar 12 year old boy, for looking at that thar white woman.” “Why Bubba Senior, that thar’s a fine idea. Hyuck. Hyuck. Hyuck.”), I’ve always just defined it as cowardice.

I’m saying my good opinion or my bad is not formed by the whims of the mob.

Never has been. Never will be.

So if I give you a review you can be sure it is my review, my considered opinion… and I stand behind it.

So my considered opinion on the AVENGERS movie?

Joss Whedon, whose other film this year CABIN IN THE WOODS I wasn’t a fan of (more due to the first time Director on that film, than to Whedon’s script), here in his role as Director and Writer, knocks this film out of the park.

THE AVENGERS is… I’m trying to avoid hyperbole here, leaving that to everyone else, but it has to be said… it is a FANTASTIC film.

It’s as smart as CABIN IN THE WOODS, but with Whedon behind the camera you also get characters and moments you really care about. You get the pathos to go with the pomp and circumstance.

I mean how do you pull this off? The culmination of all these films, all this planning, all these actors, how do you pull it together and make it work and make it live up to expectations? It is really an amazingly ambitious film, a daunting prospect, and Joss Whedon… does it.

It’s really rare for me to laugh out loud in a film, I laughed out loud numerous times in this film, just because it is so knowing, and so sharp, and so biting, and so friggin fun!!!

I’m so glad I went into this film without watching a bunch of trailers or features, or ruining any surprises because I just had a ball. And along with the fun, Whedon gave space and weight to the tragedy, something that is glossed over sometimes in epic films. The weight and cost of this battle. Whedon never loses sight of the street level view, the common men and women caught in the midst of a war of Gods and Monsters.

The humanity he imbues the attack scene with is reminiscent of Mimi Leder’s phenomenal direction in the criminally underrated Clooney action film PEACEMAKER. Where every loss and every life… was felt.


The Peacemaker (Widescreen Edition)

And going along with that, for a big, loud, blow stuff up action flick on par with Bay’s TRANSFORMERS:DARK OF THE MOON (which the battle scenes bear a resemblance to) everyone gets a chance to actually act and emote in this film. Whedon’s TV/Buffy dialog/experience serving the film well.

Every principal actor really gets a chance to shine, Scarlett Johanson, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo (Who I didn’t think could fill Ed Norton’s shoes, is phenomenal. Both as Banner and the Jade Giant he has some of the great scenes/lines in the film), Downey, they all bring it. And big kudos to Tom Hiddleston who plays Loki as more than one dimensional, but with charm and depth to match his machinations.

Anything more would be me… gushing. Suffice to say, if my math is correct this is the 6th Marvel Studios film, the culmination of half a dozen years, and their shared Universe experiment, and they pull it off. Creating a cinematic climax to this multi-year and multi-film storyline that is actually bigger and better than the films leading up to it.

I’m seldom the guy to tip my hat to MARVEL, but you have to give them their due. STAR WARS couldn’t do it (RETURN not quite living up to the greatness of EMPIRE), STAR TREK every other film is bad and they are all one off stories, BOND also is one off stories, INDIANA JONES no, MATRIX… no, LORD OF THE RINGS … no, but Marvel Studios managed to end their ambitious story… even stronger than they began it (Though it is worth noting that the heart of this whole AVENGERS cinematic concept, starts with one writer, Mark Millar of WANTED and KICK-ASS fame. His vision is what Marvel Studios followed from page to screen. And in the dozen years since his ULTIMATES comics, his involvement is perhaps not credited as much as it should be).

The AVENGERS storyline that began with the first IRON MAN, went out on a high-note with this film. Arguably only Harry Potter could claim to have as effectively told a story over multiple films. Plus they give us a great teaser at the end, can you say…. awww but that would be telling! :)

Go see the film. It’s earned its praise. Highest Recommendation A+.

And read more about the Avengers, here [Definite spoilers :)]:

The Ultimates: Ultimate Collection

The Ultimates 2: Ultimate Collection

Ultimate Comics Avengers by Mark Millar Omnibus

Avengers: Kree/Skrull War

And these books will get you up to speed with the teaser at the end of the film:

Essential Warlock – Volume 1

Essential Captain Marvel, Vol. 1 (Marvel Essentials) (v. 1)

Essential Captain Marvel, Vol. 2 (Marvel Essentials)

Infinity Gauntlet

Favorite AVENGERS Comic Book Covers! Pt 3 of 3: The Years 1977 to 1996

Working on the next MONARCHS OF MAYHEM in-between real life stuff, it’s going to come out tomorrow 14 Mar 2012, just because it’s going to take more hours to get ready. These posts take a LONG time, In the interim enjoy the following:

Podcast of the Day: John’s Old Time Radio Show #9! It’s a great podcast. After listening swing by John’s site leave him some good words and tell him where you heard about him. Thanks! -HT

And wrapping up my favorite AVENGERS covers from the original series, is pretty easy. Because after 1977, with very few exceptions the covers are just uninteresting at best and plain awful at worst. Much like the book itself, it was just stumbling from weakness to weakness.

Here then are the best covers in the last 20+ years of the books original run:

George Perez’s finest AVENGERS cover, and one of the most iconic covers of all time. Would make a great poster! This is the last GREAT A+ Cover of the AVENGERS!


Memorable.


Fun.

It says a lot that the numbers jump over a hundred issues, before I list another cover. And this is gimmicky mess, but it was better than all the previous 100 covers. It just clarifies how bad the book got.


A mercy post.


The last one I could find even something remotely interesting in.

So needless to say you want great AVENGERS covers (and comics) stick to issues #181 and before. At least for the first Volume.

In 1998 creators Kurt Busiek and George Perez would launch a new AVENGERS series that largely just pays homage to the great years of the series, You can look at them almost as a remake of the Jim Shooter and George Perez run, that I mentioned in the previous post. But it’s done well enough by Busiek and Perez to be entertaining in its own right.

And then later would come the Bendis’ years, But that is a story for another installment. :)

Revisit the earlier posts here:

PT 1 of 3
PT 2 of 3

AUDIO OF THE DAY: STEVEN BARNES Interviewed by Horace Digby AND Wild Bunch Talk

I’m in the process of getting the MONARCHS OF MAYHEM: LR GILES interview posted. Should have it up in another couple of hours.

In the interim I’m listening to a pretty informative audio interview from 2007, Steven Barnes interviewed by Horace Digby. (interview covers books, scifi, comics, martial arts, self improvement, ethnicity, Alan Moore, Batman, Plato, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Marvel Comics, Cinema, Television, Sliders, Alexander the Great, and much more).

Listen here:

Part 1
Part 2

(In fact the only problem I have with the interview is how Steven Barnes is introduced. Steven Barnes is one of the most celebrated science fiction writers of his generation. Full stop. How he is introduced is with a modifier that strikes me as being both unnecessary and unthinkingly dismissive. But that aside, an interesting listen)

Also I’m watching the end of Peckinpah’s THE WILD BUNCH, and ‘wow’ what a great film. There’s that moment in THE WILD BUNCH, where the four, guns drawn, are surrounded by an army in shock, everyone frozen, in that pause between heaven and hell.

And Ernest Borgnine into that silence… chuckles, and the gates of hell are opened.

It’s as good a moment of film, as you’ll find.

A movie of brutal violence, that is at its heart.. a romance about the dying of an age.

Anyhow, excuse any slowness in getting the next post up, but it’s… THE WILD BUNCH.

Sam Peckinpah’s Legendary Westerns Collection (The Wild Bunch / Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid / Ride the High Country / The Ballad of Cable Hogue)

Favorite AVENGERS Comic Book Covers! 2nd Decade Pt.A 1973-1977!

Per the previous post, in keeping with the upcoming AVENGERS movie, I’ve decided to cover my favorite AVENGERS comic book covers of all time. And this is part 2:

Okay I had intended to tackle all the great covers in the 2nd decade of AVENGERS comics, however that’s not going to happen, there are just too many great covers. So this post will cover the first five years of the 2nd decade of AVENGERS comics. The years from 1973 to 1977.

Enjoy!

AVENGERS 117- I believe this cover is by Sal Buscema. He was drawing the DEFENDERS and this issue is part of a great AVENGERS/DEFENDERS crossover.

AVENGERS 127- Another great Gil Kane cover.

AVENGERS 131- Fun LEGION OF THE LIVING Frankenstein monster cover is pretty fun. At a guess I’d say this is also a Gil Kane cover.

AVENGERS 134- Gil Kane up to bat again, with this cover featuring the always popular golden age Human Torch.

AVENGERS 136- The floating heads is always a nice touch. And even without Gil Kane signing his work, those elbows at jaunty fighting angles even in repose, screams Gil Kane. :) (turns out the floating heads are done by a different artist, John Romita, and that’s what was making some of these covers hard to call as completely Gil Kane)

AVENGERS 139- Here’s another example, the main drawing with that exagerrated action (somebody gets hit and their knees fly into their chest, and elbows shoot out)is vintage, powerful Gil Kane. But those floating heads are by Spiderman artist John Romita. A favorite comic as a kid, so that may be swaying my appreciation for the cover, which is not Kane’s best. I’m going to have to start grading harder or I’m going to end up listing every cover Gil Kane does. :)

AVENGERS 141- There have been many face off covers, this is one of the standout ones. A nice Gil Kane cover, his typical hard angles, lessened a bit, being inked by Jazzy John Romita.

AVENGERS 142- I promise you I’m grading harder, but what can I tell you, 1975 and Gil Kane was just knocking these covers out of the park. Add cowboys to it, or people in normal clothes and Gil was in his element. Notice the difference between this cover and the previous. The inker here was more faithful to Gil Kane’s hard angles and musculature, which I think looks more striking. Great cover.

AVENGERS 145- What?! Do you see this cover? I’m trying to avoid anymore Gil kane covers but that’s like trying not to give the MVP to Michael Jordan when he’s playing. It can’t be done. Great Kane cover, inked by Dan Adkins. Wonderful use of word balloons and typography. Something you don’t see too much in modern comics.

AVENGERS 146- Tell me this cover doesn’t have ‘buy me’ all over it? It’s a great design. However you notice how it’s rounded a bit, inked by Al Milgrom, you lose some of the angularity and power that Kane’s pencils are full of. But even subdued Kane is great.

Don’t worry Gil stops doing covers with this issue, so we should be able to jump ahead a few years before we get any more covers this good right? WRRRRRROOOOONNNGGGGG!! Cause the artist they bring in to replace him on covers is…..

AVENGERS 147-148 Last time he made this list was all the way back in issue #20, Jack the King Kirby is back doing the covers! Definitely with 148! 147 however is attributed to Buckler and Adkins, but what I’m seeing in 147 is Kirby and Milgrom.

So I’m going with my gut and attribute the penciling on both of these to Jack the King Kirby. He’s not as sophisticated as Gil Kane or John Buscema, but there is just so much life and energy in these covers, so much going on, that they are just a joy to a young kid stumbling across these issues in the libraries back issue bins or on newsstands.

And the interiors were done by Steve Englehart and Jim Shooter on scripts and George Perez and John Byrne on pencils, from this point till issue 166, almost twenty issues, they are mostly home-runs. I guess the best way to put it in perspective is… all of the comics I’ve mentioned previously… I’ve sold. This run from 147 to 166, are not for sale. In the age of digital these are the comics that are worth having as paper. :)

I won’t list all those covers here are the standouts:

As mentioned 147-148 are great, we bypass 149-150 (these are credited to George Perez, possibly George Perez’s earliest work. Look nothing like his great work now, quite frankly they are not good) and from 151-158 we get great Jack Kirby Covers. The best being the following:

158 being Kirby’s last cover for the AVENGERS and he goes out with one of my favorites of his run!

159 So Kirby leaves or is let go, it’s unclear which, who the heck can they bring in till a new regular cover artist is chosen. Who else but the best? Gil Kane returns, and like he always does… he blows the doors off the place! Look at what he’s doing in this cover. It’s just a clinic on great art. Add to that the interior art by George Perez and story by Jim Shooter and you have… classic defined.

162-163 After a couple lackluster covers, George Perez steps in to knock it out of the park with great covers to match his great interior art.

164-166 There’s a lot of nonsense about great comics out there. Here’s the straight dope… this three part storyline, issues 164-166, is the best AVENGERS storyline. Full stop. With Jim Shooter as writer, George Perez on covers, and John Byrne on interior art, they together created the throwdown for the ages. People like to use the term wide-screen entertainment to define something blockbuster in scope, these three issues from the summer of 1977… were wide-screen entertainment before the term existed. If you own only three Avengers comics… make them these three. Highest recommendation. Now that said, while all three of the covers are at least good, only one is great. This one:

AVENGERS 164- And with that cover the legendary John Byrne created the last great AVENGERS cover of 1977!

Come back next time as we finish off the 2nd decade of AVENGERS comics. the years from 1977-1983, and we also tackle the third decade, the years from 1983 to 1993.

Ya’ll come back now ya here!

p.s. As far as purchasing issues, per my previous post (scroll down) Marvel has the first 30 issues available in their oversized hardcover format they call an omnibus. It’s a good deal. However they don’t have omnibuses out for issues 31-164, so getting these issues is a little more difficult. You would think with Marvel’s AVENGERS movie due out this year they would capitalize on interest and release Omnibuses for most of these early issues. But… Noooooo. So failing that look at the links in the first post and this:

Essential Avengers, Vol. 7 (Marvel Essentials)

Essential Avengers – Volume 8

The above two are black and white collections, which is just about sacrilege, the color being such a part of these issues, but if you can’t afford the original issues, and can’t wait for the expensive hardcovers or omnibuses… they are a cheap way to read a bunch of issues.

Hold the presses!!! Here are some better color options to read these issues:

Avengers: The Coming of the Beast – Avengers (1963) #137-140, #145-146

Avengers: The Serpent Crown – Collecting AVENGERS (1963) #141-144 and #147-149.

Avengers: The Private War of Dr. Doom- contains Avengers 150-156, Annual 6; Super -Villain Team – Up 9

If you do choose to buy, please support this blog by using the links provided. This blog generates a couple dimes from each sale, so you guys using the links is definitely appreciated and definitely necessary to keep the blog going. Thanks!