The DC Comics Action Figure Archive

Although newspaper comic strips and animated cartoons and comic books have inspired tangible tchotchkes ever since the Yellow Kid first showed up, it was only in 1964, with Hasbro's introduction of the G.I. Joe doll, that the modern-day "action figure" was born. Molded from plastic with "articulated" joints, featuring a variety of accessories, the action figure has become the infinitely variable template for the depiction of any number or real and imaginary characters. In Scott Beatty's The DC Comics Action Figure Archive, we are treated to a colorful panorama of the DC plastic pantheon, an inclusive, collector-friendly listing of all the action figures authorized to date by this publisher. Beatty offers catchy sidebars that discuss mostly matters of rarity. He provides one-sentence biographies for many of the more esoteric figures, although the non-fan will remain baffled by the hermetic and recondite nature of the characters. Of course, the Big Three depicted on the cover -- Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman -- are household names and account for 40 pages between them. But it's not always the most famous hero who receives the best design. For instance, minor heroine Mademoiselle Marie, with her fashionable WWII partisan outfit, is just gorgeous. My one complaint about this feast of eye candy: alphabetizing characters by first name, such as placing Jimmy Olsen in the "J" section. Perry White would be scandalized! -

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.