Bored of the same
old routine? Want to hang out with heroes? Fancy taking your frustrations
out on the worlds greatest villains? I know just the place.
If comics are your thing then www.marvel.com
is great place to unwind on-line; its bright, interactive, fun
and full of features. For example, its current main attraction
is a regularly updated web version of the sold out comic series Ultimate
Spider-Man. This can be accessed through a simple index of available
episodes (each amounting to approximately half a printed monthly issue)
reached off the main menu and is launched through a separate browser
window. Although this can be annoying at first, as you have to close
this makeshift player before you can re-enter the main site, it does
negate the need for any exotic plug-ins such as the latest version of
However, if reading Spider-Man isn't what you're after, then shooting
at him might be. In addition to the on-line comics, Marvel.com has a
section dedicated to keeping the fun orientated fans happy. Aptly named
"Fun and Games", it is home to Spiderhunt (an arcade-style
shooting game), a Thor themed 'whack-a-mole' (where you can bludgeon
pop-up villains with the heroic thunder gods hammer in a very
stress relieving fairground manner), and more. You should also check
this area out if you're interested in entering the regular art competitions
or writing for Fan Fiction (where a paid writer starts a new story each
month, and fans have to continue it over three weekly instalments).
For the True Believers there is also plenty of information
on all Marvels monthlies, and even a section on about the company
itself that provides information on everything from advertising on the
web-site to internships and employment opportunities within the Marvel
Although cluttered and colourful this site is very easy to use, as all
the pages are topped with navigation bars (with the links being repeated
at the bottom), and there is even a dedicated internal search engine
that can sift the site for a keyword in a variety of categories. As
a whole then, Marvel.com is a great place to start looking for comic
book related web antics, but it is only the tip of the iceberg. A rather
If you want more e-comics then you should definitely point your browser
(the official web-site of Americas leading publisher of licensed
titles, Dark Horse Comics) as it boasts more than any other site to
date, and theyre animated. Weird creatures run in and out of the
frames in Stan Sakai's samurai rabbit saga Usagai Yojimbo, flies circle
the fresh corpse at Hellboy's feet; in almost every panel of each of
the 10+ comics, something is moving. And it gets better. Dark Horse
recently started running a serialised animated feature (cartoon) called
Silence: Dream Theft, on the site. Add to that the fact that even the
comics get theme music openings and give audio prompts to 'turn the
page', and you have a truly multi-media web-site.
In addition to the comics and animation, darkhorse.com also includes
a number of 'zones' relating to groups of titles published by the company.
For example, the Star Wars zone contains everything up to and including
a chronological listing of all the Star Wars comics and graphic novels
in print. The is also the obligatory shop feature and a calendar of
events that can be used as a second index. All in all, it's a pretty
impressive and functional site, but be warned; because it has so many
animated features it can be painfully slow to load, and if it gets stuck
bringing up the next page, the prompt noises will become very annoying.
Having said that, this is a great web-site for the patient.
If web-toons sound interesting, then you should visit the DC homepage
as it provides links to a number of animations showcased within
the Time Warner group (now owned by AOL). However, for those of you
cant be bothered to search for them yourselves, here are two of
DCs flagship character, Superman, is now appearing in over 30
short webisodes over at Warners entertaindom.com. With experienced
writers who have contributed to the Superman continuity in print, these
cartoons promise to deliver some good stuff, but the 3D rendered animation,
for me, fails to capture the spirit of the character. For casual web-watchers,
however, this should not be a problem, and these cartoons certainly
stand as a testament to what the internet can do for comics. Just remember
to leave space enough on your hard drive for any plug-ins that the site
asks you to install.
Girls, featuring Batgirl, Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn
from the popular Batman Animated series, is also recommended, and
has been well received by the comic reading community. Set up as
a separate site, this offers two different three minute episodes
and associated games, that maintain the look of the original cartoon.
Unfortunately, these take even longer than Dark Horses features
to load (at last count, upwards of five minutes), and unless youve
got the right software and hard ware, the image will actually remain
static while the voices and music play on.
For those of you
more interested in games, often with the chance win prizes, www.boneville.com
should be your next stop. The home page for Jeff Smiths company
Cartoon Books, this site is essentially a virtual model of the town
of Boneville (the central location for the long running cult comic series
Bone) with the various features being represented the places of
interest; such as the Arcade. Here you can find another whack-a-mole
clone ( Whack-a-stupid, stupid rat creature- theyre
so cute!), which has four different difficulty settings and the option
of entering a league. The idea is that each month the visiting player
with the highest new score wins a load of Bone goodies. Similar prizes
can also be won by entering the trivia quiz and most of the other games
on the site.
For actual fans of Smiths creations there are a number of features
and a regular news section (which can be found in the Barbers Shop),
as well as a preview of the current art work on the mans Drawing
Board. You can also check out the latest Bone merchandise, and there
is even a tour of Boneville in 3D.
Fans of the cute
and the obscure should also visit the Viz Communications web-site (www.viz.com),
as they are the leading US distributor of Japanese comics and cartoons.
Although there are no comics or games as such, you can send your friends
e-mails on Pokemon stationary, and post your own pocket
monster images in the fan art section. Unfortunately, due to the popularity
of Pikachu and co. this site is typically jammed up with a lot of fan
traffic and is, consequently, slow.
Practically every comic book company these days has some presence on
the web. Its big business, and a great way to get new readers.
Theyre really are worth exploring, but heres a tip; if you
are looking for fun features and stress relieving games stick to the
companies who have a wide fan base and colourful characters, otherwise
youll find yourself face to rotten face with depressing horror
characters such as Spawn. You have been warned.
© Nathan Davies 2001