It’s another first this week, as Archaia Comics bring us the world’s first digital variant cover. It appears on the front of the preview issue of their reboot of this classic Manga which based on the original from Shotaro Ishinomori.  Eventually Cyborg 009 will be relased as a comprehensive hardcover edition, but this digital preview features the first 17 pages giving readers a tantalizing tease of what is to come. This 000 issue is available on all the usual digital platforms, but the variant cover is a ComiXology exclusiveIt works by using the app’s Guided View mode to create a subtle animation (as you can see in the GIF to the left) and so as you tap on the page Cyborg 009 himself appears behind a robot bad guy and progressively beats him up before the comic cover finally forms.

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The eternal comics conundrum of ‘who would beat who in a fight‘ has kept comics in fresh storylines for almost as long as comics have been around. The latest unlikely pairing to be pitted against each other, courtesy of IDW Publishing, are those robots in disguise, the Transformers and the manic martians from Mars Attacks in this brilliantly insane one off. IDW have a real knack for creating these one-off, ‘what if’ scenarios, thanks in part to their wide selection of licensed characters, and so after pitting them against the Ghostbusters, Kiss and Popeye it’s time another iconic group of heroes to take on the onslaught of the cackling martians.

Captain Stone #4 (Madefire)The newest installment of Captain Stone is Missing, aka the Digital Comic of the Year 2012, has hit the Madefire app and not only is it another bleeding edge example of what the motion comic app can produce, but it features this little website on the cover alongside artwork from the legendary Bill Sienkiewicz! This latest episode, (it feels wrong to call it an issue!) delves further into the back story of the Captain, and his subsequent fall from grace with writers Liam Sharp and Christina McCormack managing to completely enthral without much happening beyond exposition.

Zombies-Hi-1Proof that digital comics is the great democratizer comes this week in the form of Northern Irish zombie anthology Zombies Hi, from Uproar Comics. This self published digital only title features a brilliant mix of zombie themed stories supplied by writers and artists from the Derry area alongside a main story written by Uproar co-founder Danny McLaughlin with artwork from fellow co-founders Kevin ‘Gio’ Logue and John Cambell. By basing their stories in and around the Derry area it  gives the book a fantastic localized feel, and so makes much more distinctive than dozens of other books which follow in the shuffling footsteps of the Walking Dead. 

The Loxleys and the War of 1812A 175 page book about an obscure American/Canadian war from the 19th century may not sound like an obvious choice for a comic book adventure, but thanks to the intelligent writing of 2000ad legend Alan Grant and the sublime artwork of Canadian illustrator Claude St. Aubin, The Loxleys and The War of 1812  from Renegade Arts Entertainment is an enlightening and informative look at the futility of war and the effect it has on family life, that is as relevant today as it was back then.

Tales of the Buddha coverAt the opposite end of the comics spectrum from last week’s kid’s comics The Phoenix is this stoner-infused look at the early life of Buddha, which is definitely for adults only! From the wonderfully warped mind of 2000ad legend Alan Grant and fellow Dredd alum John Haward and Jamie Grant Tales of the Buddha (Before He Got Enlightened) gives us a gag and ganja-heavy account of the eastern mystic as he searchs for enlightenment. Each 1 or 2 page strip sees our portly hero travelling the world and across history, getting up to all sorts of un-pious mischief while meeting a host of famous faces along the way – from Hercules and the Argonauts to Elvis and more. Forget your historically accurate timelines sacred scriptures, and just revel in the smart jokes and brilliantly quirky artwork of this supremely smart and enjoyable creation.

The Phoenix Comic Free Sampler coverThis week sees the launch of the first digital edition of the weekly UK comic The Phoenix launched via Apple Newsstand with an app powered by the team at Panel Nine, this is a bold new step for the company, but one that helps The Phoenix find its natural home in the 21st century – on the iPads of the nation’s kids. If like me you’re a child of the 80s then reading The Phoenix gives you a delightful trip down memory lane as it feels very much like a natural successor to classic British kids comics like the Beano and the Dandy. This is in no part thanks to it’s anarchic sense of humour, and unpatronising tone, combined with a 21st century update and so it creates a brilliant blend of quirky comic strips with potentially strong characters that help keep it looking current and relevant and should keep kids and parents alike amused.

Amazing Spider-Man 700This weeks must-have digital comic is an obvious one, partly because its the only major title released this post-Christmas week, but mainly because it is the final issue of one of Marvel‘s flagship titles – The Amazing Spider-Man. After events in recent issues (and this is your SPOILER warning, stop if you haven’t read them yet!) life in the Spidey-verse is about to change forever. And we are assured this is a forever change as it brings to an end the most iconic title in the Marvel cannon and also the end of Peter Parker as Spider-Man.

Insufferable 1 coverThis week sees the arrival of the first 3 issues of Mark Waid’s Insufferable on ComiXology. Previously released as weekly updates on his website Thrillbent.com, each issues comprises two installments and introduces us to the world of aging superhero Nocturnus and his upstart protege Galahad. Although it was a great read online  Insufferable’s natural home is on a tablet and being able to read each issue in glorious full screen is a real treat.

The Masks and Mobsters team of Josh Williamson and Mike Henderson have taken their world of 1940s pulp noir and infused it with a generous dose of ‘the best Christmas story ever told‘ – Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – for this brilliant festive offering. As two hitmen try to hunt down a certain, Ebeneezer Scrooge, they are warned off their hit by some malevolent spirits who have other plans for Mr Scrooge.