Free DC Comics PDFs, and something to read them on

Like any other denizen of teh intarwebs, I love a legitimate freebie. So I was pretty chuffed to discover (via BoingBoing) that DC Comics are getting wise to viral internet marketing, by releasing the first issues of a number of their best Vertigo titles in free-to-download PDF format.

I’m no comics buff, to tell the truth, having only started collecting a few titles in the last five years or so. But almost all the ones I’ve enjoyed have been DC Vertigo titles, as I don’t go big on the whole ‘underwear perverts’ thing (unless it’s done in a really subversive manner). That means you can check out the first issues of some of my favourites, which I think will appeal to science fiction readers as much as they do to me. If you want to check out the whole selection, however, feel free.

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Transmetropiltan

First up, I’ll push you towards Transmetropolitan. Chances are you’ve read it (or at least heard of it) already, but if you’ve not it’s high time you got to grips with a superbly satirical science fiction series. Written by the indomitable Warren Ellis, and featuring artwork of amazing quality, Transmetropolitan chronicles the adventures of Spider Jerusalem, outlaw journalist. The best way to sum it up is to imagine Hunter S. Thompson living in a future world where huge advances in genetics and nanotechnology have done nothing at all to change the fundamental grottiness of life in general, and politics in particular.

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Y the Last ManSecondly, Y the Last Man is the tale of Yorick Brown, twenty-something slacker and aspiring stage magician/escape artist, who finds himself on the run in a world where a mysterious virus has wiped out every male member of the human race except himself. A conceit like that could easily descend into tacky cliche and smut, but YtLM is intelligent and moving, packed with social commentary and subcultural references. Brilliantly written and illustrated, this still-running series is well worth the time of any serious speculative fiction reader.

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TestamentLast of my three recommendations, but by no means the least, is Testament. This ongoing series is written by media and culture guru Douglas Rushkoff, and dissects the Bible to reveal the true roots of the stories that history and dogmatism have distorted, and reframes them in parallel with a near-future narrative featuring surveillance, RFID tagging, political protest, technological expansion and more. Subversive and sexy, great artwork and big ideas, gods portrayed as concepts, concepts portrayed as gods. Go take a look.

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“But AA,” I hear you say, “PDFs are sucky, because you have to open them in Adobe Reader, and there’s no way of organising your collection of them.”

And you’d be right – up until just now. Adobe have obviously wised up to this issue, and you can now get a free download of the beta version of Adobe Digital Editions, a compact Flash-based PDF reader that includes facilities for managing your library of PDFs – think Picasa for documents, and you’re in the right field.

It’s a bit skinny on the features so far, but it’s much nicer to use (and easier on the eye) than Reader, and I’m imagining that they’ll bolt on more goodies as they develop the program. So go grab it, snaffle some comics, and then web on over to Project Gutenberg and go crazy.

(And if you like finding out about useful new software, plus productivity hints and tips’n’tricks for making your computer-based life easier and more enjoyable, you should probably go subscribe to LifeHacker, which is where I got that last tip-off – credit where credit is due.)

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