Sunday, April 29, 2012

App Review: DC Nation

[DISCLAIMER:  Support your local comic book store]

Sometimes I review iPad apps.  OK, so I've only done it once.  I guess that means we're due for another one.

DC Comics have finally put some extra effort into some all-ages content which has culminated recently in the Cartoon Network programming block (block?  It's two shows?!?) DC Nation.  The cartoons are great and hopefully they'll get kids interested in the comics and if so they've got the DC Nation App to turn to: 

It's your standard comiXology format but this only focuses on DC's various all-ages titles.  The Young Justice and Green Lantern: TAS tie-in comics are front and center but I was also pleased to see great titles like Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, Krypto the Superdog, Tiny Titans, and Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam among others.

Browsing can be done by digital release date or by series which is helpful and they have several freebies including full first issues as well as additional content (more on that in a minute).

Once downloaded, comics are also organized my series with a choice of thumbnail display or list display.  When reading, the visuals are crisp and clear.  It has the standard double tap panel display zoom in/out which I found very responsive.  

Ideally I wish there would be more of a selection but, of course, DC doesn't publish a whole lot of all-ages material.  And I'm sure that over time the selection will grow.  I'd like to see some of their Silver Age stuff made available to a new generation through this platform.

As far as prices go, I was glad to see nothing over 99 cents (and I hope that sticks).  Also, as I said earlier, there is a fair amount of free content.  Original content includes DC Nation Secret Files:

which is your run of the mill "Bio Page" that focuses on characters from the current animated shows.  I was never a huge fan of these types of bios since the information listed on the page tends to be ignored or contradicted regularly by other writers.  These are one page each but, hey, they're free!  (Side Note:   Looks like Aqualad isn't very smart)

Another new addition is the DC Nation Mini Mag:

This seems like a missed opportunity to me.  It's another one-pager and the first (and so far only) issue has just a few blurbs about the cast of Green Lantern: TAS.  It's low on content and has no interactivity to speak of.  You'd think that if DC was creating content specifically for the iPad then they'd want to play up the unique benefits the device offers.  There's the potential to include animation, games, audio and video but the Mini-Mag is essentially back-of-the-cereal-box fare.

The other big freebie is DC Universe Origins:

These seem to be reprints of the two page origins that appeared in the 52 weekly series a couple of years back.  They're great, concise origins of the characters but with the New 52 rewriting DC history you have to wonder if these histories are still valid.

It's always great to see comic companies remembering that children still exist and even better to see them making an effort to get kids excited about our favorite characters.  I think there's plenty of room for improvement with this app but with low prices, solid content and recognizable characters this would be a great way to supplement your kid's love of reading.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Mysterious Superman Store

As I was driving home from the comic book store last Wednesday something odd caught my eye. In the middle of what I assume is the Korean section of Dallas there was a mysterious storefront. While I couldn't read the Asian characters outside of the store there was something distinctly American that I did recognize.

BAM! Superman symbol! With the inverted colors you are probably tempted to refer to this as a Bizarro Superman symbol but notice that the "S" is not backward which makes this strictly non-Bizarro.

But what the heck is this place? They wouldn't be the first non-WB entity to try and use the "S" shield to promote something but I couldn't tell what. Other than the Superman motif there was absolutely nothing to indicate what it is or was. And for those that might dismiss this as just a playful decoration that the proprietor thought looked cool, check out the small sign to the lower right of the Asian letters:

Yep, it says "Superman" all right. So what's the deal with this place? I gotta know. This is the point in the blog where you are probably thinking, "Well go inside and ask them, genius!" But, alas, this place was locked up tighter than the Fortress of Solitude:

So it's not a business or at the very least it's not a business where the public is welcome. A new branch of Cadmus Labs perhaps? Did Supes get jealous of Batman, Inc. and start a franchise of his own? Will we ever know for sure?

If you aren't laying awake tonight considering the possibilities then, let's face it, you probably hate America.