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Saturday, May 1, 2010

In Review: Free Comic Book Day 2010






















Since there are so many different titles, and because many comics shop limit the number of comics you can have, I have created the following review of every single comic book offered on Free Comic Book Day.


The images below, used for review purposes, appear on the official Free Comic Book Day website. Many publishers offer previews there as well.


Many thanks to all the publishers and retailers who support this great day! I personally read a lot of comics, but there's a lot I cannot read, or just plain ignore. Even the stuff I wasn't too keen on, I still appreciate, as it has broadened my knowledge base!


And a big THANK YOU to Joe Field of FLYING COLORS Comics & Other Cool Stuff, for coming up with such a crazy idea! You are a Seducer of the Innocent Par Excellance!



So lets start with the Golden sponsors, titles which were sent out to every participating store.

ARCHIE’S SUMMER SPLASH! #1 FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W/A) Dan Parent.
Publisher: ARCHIE COMICS

The Pembrooke private beach is closed for the summer due to an oil spill (perfect timing!), so Cheryl Blossom is forced to slum at the public Riverdale Beach. She soon becomes jealous of The Archies, and decides to form her own band, “Blossom”, with disastrous results!


Doctor Solar/Magnus FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W) Jim Shooter (A) Dennis Calero, Various (C) Raymond Swanland.
Publisher: DARK HORSE COMICS

Dark Horse relaunches Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom, and Magnus, Robot Fighter with Jim Shooter in control. Doctor Solar offers an early story of Doctor Solar, right after he gains his powers, and his first “crime-fighting”. Magnus is caught in a strange robotic love nest, setting up future storylines. Both series debut this summer, but I’ve never been a big fan of either character. We’ll see if Dark Horse and Jim Shooter can revive these characters once again.



FRACTURED FABLES FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W) Bryan Talbot, Doug TenNapel, Alexander Grecian, Derek McCulloch, Ted McKeever (A) Camilla d'Errico, Doug TenNapel, Christian Ward, Anthony Peruzzo, Ted McKeever (C) Mike and Laura Allred
Publisher: IMAGE COMICS

An all-star cast, previewing an original hardcover graphic novel. Lots of good stuff, including a very weird Rumplestiltskin from Doug TenNapel. It’s fairy tales, but probably suited for older kids who will get the satire and humor.


(And I love the "Kid Friendly" logo!)


G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO #155½ FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W) Larry Hama (A) TBD.
Publisher: IDW Publishing

I was never a fan of G.I.Joe, the comic, although I did watch the cartoon regularly. This issue seems to continue the storyline from the original Marvel Comic, and has Cobra Commander initiating a very Machiavellian scheme, which will continue in an ongoing series. This issue features COBRA, and intrigues me enough that I will read the collected trade. Larry Hama knows how to write, and this is like Steve Ditko and Stan Lee returning to write Amazing Spider-Man #38½.



IRON MAN/THOR FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W) Matt Fraction (A/C) John Romita, Jr.
Publisher: MARVEL COMICS

A nice moral tale, involving Tony Stark and some misused tech. My suspension of disbelief was tested by the plot (billionaires create a gated community by terraforming the Moon), but this is a Marvel comic, so I just let that slide for the sake of storytelling. That the Moon has been colonized since 2005, but not mentioned in other titles? Sure. Okay. There’s some nice dialogue between Iron Man and Thor, lots of collateral damage, and a good ending. This is the sort of done-in-one story Marvel perfected in the 1960s, and is perfect for a lazy summer afternoon.

MOUSE GUARD/FRAGGLE ROCK FCBD 2010 Edition
Creative Team: (W/A) David Petersen, TBD.
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment

A flip book with Fraggle Rock. The Mouse Guard story serves as an introduction to the third story arc, Spring 1153. Narrated by a journal entry, this story serves as an introduction to this ambitious series. Fraggle Rock, a new series from Archaia, presents two stories. The first, starring Boober Fraggle, uses a beautiful painted style to tell an important lesson. The second story, featuring Red, uses a rough pencil style to teach a lesson about Art. (Was it rushed for publication? Or done deliberately to comment on the story?) All ages.


(Not final cover)
KiZOIC Presents: Shrek & The Penguins Of Madagascar FCBD 2010 Edition
Creative Team: various
(Publisher: Ape Entertainment

This is a flip book, shared with The Penguins of Madagascar. I wish I could show you the final covers… the Penguins have a stark simplicity drawn by Antonio Campo, and the Shrek cover is riot of Shrek, Donkey, Puss, Fiona, all a flight on Dragon. All of the stories are fun, and if you’ve got kids, or know of them, this is a great title, especially with the new movie out this summer. KiZoic is the young reader imprint for Ape Entertainment.


YOW! The John Stanley Library FCBD 2010 Edition
Creative Team: (W/A) John Stanley.
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Nancy visits Oona Goosepimple! Tubby grows a mustache! Judy Junior manipulates Jimmy Fuzzi. Nancy is chased by that ruffian Spike! Melvin Monster brings home a pet that takes a liking to Baddy! And… pulled from obscurity, Choo Choo Charlie (love my Good & Plenty) must rid his train of the squeebles. Lots of fun stories, mostly for younger readers.



(Not final cover)
TOY STORY FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W) Jesse Blaze Snider (A/C) Nathan Watson.
Publisher: BOOM! Studios

This issue reprints the first issue of “The Return of Buzz Lightyear”. Andy’s grandmother mistakenly sends him a second Buzz Lightyear action figure. Before Andy can return the duplicate to the toy store for a refund, it gains freedom and challenges Buzz (AKA “Sally”) to a duel.


WAR OF THE SUPERMEN #0 FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W) James Robinson (A) Eddy Barrows, Ruy José (C) J.G. Jones.
Publisher: DC COMICS

The cover has been changed, it is now a more iconic image drawn by the interior artists. This is a prelude to DC’s next Big Event, as they hope to repeat the success of last year’s Blackest Night prelude. The issue has two stories: Superman on New Krypton, and Lois Lane on Earth. The first story recaps What Has Gone Before, as Superman confronts General Zod. The second story, by Sterling Gates, features one-page pin-ups that introduce the major players of the upcoming saga.


SONIC THE HEDGEHOG FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W) Ian Flynn (A) James Fry, Jim Amash
Publisher: ARCHIE COMICS

Yup. A comic book about a video game character, one that has been published for over 200+ issues. This issue seems to be set between story arcs, showcasing Sonic, his nemesis Dr. Robotnik, and a unique challenge. The backstory is explained, the main characters are introduced to new readers, and enough action is shown to make this a good read. I wouldn’t read more, but for fans of the character, this series seems to be rich with storytelling.


WORLDS OF ASPEN FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W) David Wohl, JT Krul, David Schwartz, Vince Hernandez (A) Joe Benitez, Scott Clark, Marcus To, Eduardo Francisco, Alex Konat (C) Michael Turner, Peter Steigerwald, Various
Publisher: ASPEN MLT

I am familiar with Aspen, but have never read a regular issue from the publisher. This issue works as an introduction to various titles, using Fathom as a framing sequence to give brief exposure to other Aspen titles. Mindfield, a series of telepathic CIA agents fighting terrorism, looks intriguing. Soulfire, set in a future where Magic has returned to reality, does not entice me to read more. Executive Assistant: Iris, a story of a bodyguard/secretary/assassin, shows promise. Dellec intrigues, if only for the two-page spread. No idea what the series is about, but it looks cool. The issue ends with a pin-up of Lady Mechnika. It should be an advertisement, since it appears to premiere in Fall 2010, but there is no text, aside from the title and the creator’s name, Joe Benitez. Looks interesting, but I have no idea why I should read this.



FEARLESS DAWN/ASYLUM PRESS SAMPLER FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W/A) Steve Mannion, Various
Publisher: ASYLUM PRESS

Fearless Dawn…full of craziness. Only eight pages are reprinted from the first issue, so I hope it makes more sense. (Nazis in Manitoba?) It looks like fun, but I’d have to look more to be certain. Enter the Bladeviper has a Heavy Metal vibe, nice art, but it seems like I’ve seen this story before. Black Powder… is what happens when writers try to draw. This is 3-D modeling software with a Photoshop filter (or wayward Wacom drawing). It’s the uncanny valley between the realistic artwork of Alex Ross and photographic Fumetti. Unfortunately, the writing doesn’t overcome the limitations of the artwork. Farmhouse will be an original graphic novel about an art studio for psychiatric patients. This is also available as a preview on the iphone from Comixology. The preview is confusing, and I wouldn’t give it a future look. Eeek! Is the most interesting part of this sampler, channeling horror stories from the Seventies. Jason Paulos writes and draws in a variety of styles, and I’ll give it a longer look when the paperback is released in October. Warlash: Zombie Mutant Genesis seems to be Batman vs. Zombies, and doesn’t make me want to read more. Undead Evil is a wordless preview, but the artwork is AMAZING. Will the story be of equal quality?


S.E. HINTON/FAME FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W) CW Cooke, Dan Rafter (A) Various (C) Vinnie Tartamella
Publisher: BLUEWATER PRODUCTIONS

Perhaps the strangest flip-book of them all, but not too surprising, since it’s from Bluewater. On one side, noted novelist S.E. Hinton adapts her juvenile novel, The Puppy Sister. Most readers know Hinton from reading “The Outsiders”, and this is quite different. According to Wikipedia, this puppy will eventually transform into a young girl. Hmm… maybe this does fit in with Lady Gaga… The other half of the book is devoted to Bluewater’s new “Fame” series. Lady Gaga gets the usual Bluewater treatment, told by a personal narrator. The other preview… Taylor Swift. Aside from the Grammys, this is probably the only place you’ll see them together, especially with a cameo by Ellen Degeneres. The cover you see is the best art in this issue.


BONGO COMICS FREE-FOR-ALL! FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W/A) Matt Groening, Various
Publisher: BONGO COMICS

Chuck Dixon writes about Krusty giving up show biz and getting a job at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Sergio Aragonés chronicles Maggie’s scheme to stay up late. Tony Digerolamo chronicles Homer trying, in vain, to cool off. And, Because You Demanded It, Ian Boothby shows us what happens when Bartman, Stretch Dude, and the Cupcake Kid team-up to overthrow Evil Bart.

IRREDEEMABLE #1 FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W) Mark Waid (A) Peter Krause (C) John Cassaday
Publisher: BOOM! STUDIOS

Boom! presents their second FCBD title, and this is actually two issues in one, as this issue contains a flip-book of Incorruptible #1. This is a no-brainer, given that Incorruptible tells the tale of a villain who reforms after seeing the havoc created by The Plutonian in Irredeemable. Irredeemable shows what happens when a superhero becomes evil and amoral.


DC KIDS MEGA-SAMPLER FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W) Landry Walker, Art Baltazar, Franco, Sholly Fisch (A) Eric Jones, Art Baltazar, Mike Norton, Dario Brizuela (C) Baltazar
Publisher: DC COMICS

The second free issue this year from DC Comics, featuring teasers for Billy Batson & The Magic of Shazam #17 (June) and Tiny Titans #31 (August). The Brave and the Bold has a complete story featuring Batman and the Martian Manhunter. Super Friends has two activity pages, and Johnny DC features this month’s titles on the last page. The Shazam story features the delightful artwork of Mike Norton, who draws THE. BEST. COWS. Cows in drag, but that’s not the actual joke! (Props to Art Baltazar and Franco for taking a cliché and twisting it into something fun!) My only criticism? This should have been DC’s Gold title, available to all stores. This is a Johnny DC title, but the stories inside will appeal to all. (Tiny Titans is full of canonical in-jokes, but still fun for everyone.)

This issue is the smaller 6x9 format, which works well for this material.


(Not final art)
DEL REY SHOWCASE FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W/A) Various
Publisher: DEL REY COMICS

The cover features Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel. I’ve not read Austen or Grahame-Smith, yet the writing seems fun enough, and the art is simple yet detailed. I especially enjoy that the Bennet sisters seem more “manly” than the English gentlemen! The Talisman, adapted from Stephen King and Peter Straub’s novel, introduces us to the story, but it doesn’t entice me to read more. Dean Koontz’ Odd Is on Our Side is presented in landscape format, due to the manga format. Odd can see the spirits of the dead, as shown here in an eight-page preview. The Last Airbender Prequel: Zuko’s Story, gets a preview, but doesn’t interest me. Of course, I’m not the target audience, no almost nothing about the movie or anime, but I like a good story, and this doesn’t interest me. (Sorry, Dave.)


(Not final cover)
GREEN HORNET #1 FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W) Kevin Smith (A) Jonathan Lau, Ariel Padilla, Aaron Campbell (C) Alex Ross
Publisher: D.E./DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
This issue presents short previews of Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet, Green Hornet Year One, The Green Hornet Strikes!, Kato Origins: Way of the Ninja, and Kevin Smith’s Kato. (What, no Green Hornet Babies?) Not interesting enough for me to purchase, but the historical themes are interesting.


WEATHERCRAFT: A FRANK COMIC FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W/A) Jim Woodring
Publisher: FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS

Yes. Jim Woodring. Definitely not the sort of thing I would give anyone under the age of thirteen, but a wonderful introduction into Jim Woodring’s storytelling. Fantagraphics does an excellent job of introducing Jim Woodring’s distinct vision, which I was familiar with, but had never read. Would I read more? Yes, but I wouldn’t pay to. It’s a unique and personal work of art, but way too strange for my tastes.

THE OVERSTREET GUIDE TO COLLECTING COMICS FCBD 2010 EDITION
Publisher: GEMSTONE PUBLISHING

Gemstone features one of their few remaining properties: The Overstreet Guides. This is actually a decent introduction to collecting and selling comics, giving a good introduction to the various aspects of the hobby. My favorite part? The comparison of prices from the First Edition (1970) and the Fortieth Edition (2010). Showcase #4, the first appearance of the Silver Age Flash? $12 then, $48,000 now. (Of course, if you had $12 back in 1975, you could buy twenty-four copies of Giant Size X-Men #1.)


LIBRARY OF AMERICAN COMICS #0 FCBD 2010 EDITION
Publisher: IDW PUBLISHING

A flip-book, the other side features Blondie on the cover. A nice, glossy comic featuring IDW’s comic-strip reprints. The best part of this comic? The two-page ad for “Genius Illustrated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth”, coming in October! Yes, IDW would have to feature Toth to top the comics reprinted inside: X-9: Secret Agent Corrigan, Rip Kirby, Li’l Abner, Archie, Polly and Her Pals (color Sundays!), and Blondie! The strips are printed vertically, meaning each page features two daily strips, enlarged to an eye-popping ten-inches across! (Check out Al Williamson’s amazing artwork!)

These archival books are not cheap, but this issue features the amazing quality found in each volume. I’ve already purchased a few, and will buy more.


(Not final art)
ARTIFACTS: FIRST LOOK FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W) Ron Marz (A) Top Cow's Finest (C) Stjepan Sejic
Publisher: IMAGE COMICS/TOP COW STUDIOS

Top Cow (Image) presents a preview to their next Big Event. I’m not a regular reader, only a bit familiar with some of the characters, but I like the concept. Each character has at least one artifact (like the Witchblade) and an unknown mastermind seeks to gather these artifacts to initiate a cataclysm. Ron Marz writes the 13-issue series, which also feature back-up origin features. In this issue, we are introduced to The Magdalena, descended from Christ, and wielding the Spear of Destiny. I’ll keep an eye on this, out of curiosity.


LOVE AND CAPES #13 FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W/A/C) Thomas F. Zahler
Publisher: MAERKLE PRESS

Thom Zahler once again publishes a new regular issue as a Free Comic Book Day comic.

The series, a romantic comedy of a superhero and his fiancé, concludes with this issue, as Mark Spencer, a mild-mannered accountant also known as The Crusader, enjoys his honeymoon with his wife, Abby. As with previous issues, the story centers on the romance, with excellent characterization and witty dialogue. Had I not discovered this series years ago, (as well as the incredible FCBD issue from last year), I would be eager to read the earlier issues.


IRON MAN: SUPERNOVA FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W) Paul Tobin (A) Craig Rousseau (C) Ed McGuinness
Publisher: MARVEL COMICS

The second Marvel comic is “Great For All Ages” (it says so on the cover, so it must be true), and I agree. Written by Paul Tobin, this story features Iron Man and Nova battling the Red Ghost and his Super-Apes. Igor is the star of this story, and he doesn’t have a single line! The Super Hero Squad Show has a backup story featuring the Hulk versus a robot, which is kind of fun.



THE TICK #1 FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W/A) Ben Edlund
Publisher: NEC PRESS

Once again, New England Comics reprints the nigh-invulnerable Tick. It’s been a while since I read this issue, and though the humor is a bit unusual, it’s still a lot of fun. Plus, it’s got ninjas.


ONI PRESS FREE-FOR-ALL! #1 FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W/A) Chris Schweizer, Matthew Loux, Ray Fawkes
Publisher: ONI PRESS

This issue features three of Oni’s characters for younger readers. While Possessions, Salt Water Taffy, and Crogan Adventures are technically graphic novels, not comics, this is still a great introduction to some fun stories. I was not familiar with Possessions, featuring a mischievous spirit named Gurgazon, but the story has enough charm and interesting ideas that I’ll read more and probably give it to my niece. Salt Water Taffy features Jack and Benny, two brothers spending a summer vacation in a very unique Maine town. Fun storytelling, amazing artwork, recommended for all.


THE SIXTH GUN #1 FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W) Cullen Bunn (A/C) Brian Hurtt
Publisher: ONI PRESS

The first issue of a new series, a supernatural western centered on a cursed six-shooter. We meet the various protagonists, and end with a great cliffhanger! While I won’t be adding this to my weekly purchases, the story is worth a future look. If you like Preacher, but want a title you can let your younger sibling read, then try this title.


RADICAL: BIGGER BOOKS! BIGGER VALUE! FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W/A) Various
Publisher: RADICAL PUBLISHING

A hefty 48-page glossy issue, featuring some interesting stories. Driver for the Dead has a nice introduction, although the main character and the plot of the story aren’t made clear in the pages shown. Time Bomb is centered around a sub-terranean Nazi city, a doomsday weapon, and time travel back to World War II. Palmiotti and Gray write, Gulacy draws, so this should be worth reading further. However, the preview is not appropriate for children. After Dark has beautiful artwork, but the preview does not entice me to read further. After Dark has a great “Heavy Metal” feel to the story, set in a future Earth ravaged by war and dominated by an alien species. Not my cuppa, but worth a further look, especially in a collected edition.


ATOMIC ROBO AND FRIENDS FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W) Brian Clevinger, Various (A) Scott Wegener, Various
Publisher: RED 5 COMICS

Atomic Robo hunts for giant birds in the Amazon, to humorous results. Neozoic shows us a world where dinosaurs never became extinct, and Box 13 teases us with a mystery based on MKULTRA. Box 13 appears to be an original graphic novel. Neozoic has been collected as a graphic novel, and Atomic Robo has had impressive sales on the Diamond Top 300 GN list. Atomic Robo seems to be a bit like Hellboy, but with a different attitude. Neozoic and Box 13 are worthy of a longer read, but I wouldn’t buy the books.


(Not final cover)
FREEDOM FORMULA: SPEED METAL OVERTURES #0 FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (Writer) Edmund Shern ,Brandon Jerwa, Andrew Dabb, Tony Lee (A) Puppeteer Lee, Zid, Leah Liu, Zhaoweiyi (C) Puppeteer Lee
Publisher: STORM LION

Storm Lion is a publisher from Singapore which has published comics with Radical Comics. The first story, Devolution, presents a futuristic military state patrolled by mechas. There’s a dark secret revealed in the last panel, making this an intriguing story. This is followed by advertising for Nebulous, The Deserter, Ghost Moon, Brinkman, and Titan Rain. Nicely done, worthy of more attention.

THE STUFF OF LEGEND: MORTAL INSTRUMENTS PREVIEW FCBD 2010 EDITION
Publisher: TH3RD WORLD STUDIOS

This is a flip-book, the other cover features Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. This issue recaps an ongoing series, The Stuff of Legend, based on toys which seek their boy who has been kidnapped by the Boogeyman. Once crossing over into The Dark, they become “real”, as seen on the cover. The artwork suits the story, and the characters are distinct and unique. I would not seek out the trade collections, but would read more if given the opportunity. The other half of the book introduces a paranormal adventure due to be published this winter. Interesting premise, but it doesn’t interest me. After this, there are three one-page comics from Webcomics Online. Super Fogeys, featuring geriatric superheroes, seems funny enough to warrant a web browsing. Pinkerton Park seems to be another comic strip of whacky animal characters, and Legend of Bill takes a humorous look at barbarian adventuring. Bill has an ongoing story online, unusual for a humorous strip, but the four strips featured here are single gags. Again, these are free comics EVERYDAY, just visit the website featured at the bottom of each page.


OWLY AND FRIENDS FCBD 2010 EDTION
Creative: (W/A) Andy Runton, James Kochalka, Christian Slade
Publisher: TOP SHELF PRODUCTIONS

A delightful sampler of Top Shelf’s kid-friendly (but really all-ages) titles. Owly flies a kite, Johnny Boo does something, and Sprout has a food-inspired nightmare. James Kochalka’s story is the only one with actual words, but his deft dialogue actually presents one of the best stories of all the FCBD offerings this year. If you can, grab an extra copy for the kid next door, young relatives, or students who don’t like to read.

(Technically, all of these characters appear in books, not comics, but I hope more publishers follow Top Shelf’s example.)




MARVEL HEROCLIX: WAR MACHINE FCBD 2010 FIGURE
Publisher: WIZKIDS/NECA

I’m not a HeroClix player, but these are nice little action figures. Generally speaking, War Machine is Iron Man’s backup. He/It will be featured in the movie which debuts next week.

2 comments:

  1. this is great I'm honestly impacted with the quality of some of these comic books, I love specially Shrek ones.

    ReplyDelete
  2. if I was invited to a free comic book day, I swear you that when the day end, all my the comics books will be mine.

    ReplyDelete