May 13, 2011

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Free Comic Book Day Quick Reviews

Here's a quick rundown of what I picked up on Free Comic Book Day. None of these are particularly in-depth, of course, but reflect my general impressions. The point of FCBD is to get people to try things, so my main focus is on whether I was intrigued enough to seek out more.

The Best Things in Life Were Free

It was a tight race, but Dark Horse's Baltimore/Criminal Macabre was probably the best of the comics I read that day. Not hard to get me to buy into Mignola, but Steve Niles hooked me with his madcap monster movie/noir mashup and now I want to read more.

I can't believe I hadn't read Atomic Robo before, but I won't keep denying myself for much longer! The story, though short, was hysterical, including a gun show send-up that is one of the best I've seen anywhere. I want to read more. The Foster Broussard backup wasn't bad, but I don't think I'd seek it out. Moon Girl didn't quite grab me.

Bongo Comics Free-For-All reminds us that Bongo Comics are not only pretty good, but should be the people actually writing the Simpsons. Evan Dorkin and Sergio Aragones (writing a story on his own with words!) are the highlights in an extremely solid pick. I continue to want to read more, since I already do love Bongo's Simpsons stuff.

Captain America Thor is bittersweet, because for some reason, Marvel is opting to tease readers with great stories like this one by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee, then put in house ads for things that are infinitely less interesting. I would like to read more, but can't. The Avengers tie-in backup is terrible and makes the Wasp useless.

I was surprised at how much I liked the Archaia FCBD offering, starting with a really cool Mouse Guard story but also featuring a Season of the Dapper Men that seemed promising and quite a bit of Jim Henson-related comics that I'm looking forward to reading at some point. I want to read more.

Locke & Key from Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez and IDW got me interested enough in their concept that I picked up the first trade at the store, so it's definitely an I want to read more candidate. Strange that a non-all ages book had an all ages story, though.

Boom! Studios is the latest to try an Elric adaptation, and I wish them the best of luck, but as their own timeline shows, Elric seems to be a bit of a hard sell. The artwork by Francesco Biagini channels P. Craig Russell and is extremely pretty. Elric isn't my favorite character, but I want to read more.

Robert Kirkman has quite a bit of range, going from the extreme gore of Walking Dead to the kid-friendly Super Dinosaur. This series just looks like a lot of fun, featuring center of the earth concepts, a non-obnoxious teen lead, and, of course, a cyborg T-Rex that can talk. I plan to read more. Not sure Invincible's bloody body count is a good house ad for the back, though.

Born to be Free

Silver Scorpion was a neat idea, I think--get kids together and help them create a character they can relate to. Ron Marz does a good job with what he's given, but this is pretty standard superhero stuff, the kind of character that makes the Marvel-DC D list and shows up in crowd shots. I'd read more, but not at full price.

I remember when Oni Press was more about relationships than action books, but that seems like ages ago. Spontaneous has an interesting premise (human combustion and a strange link between occurrences) but the art just turned me off. I'd read more, but not at full price.

Why is there a new comic for Inspector Gadget? It was fun and seemed to capture the patter of the original, but failed to hook me because the publisher opted not to give me a full story. Big mistake, now I don't know if I like you enough to pay for you. I'd read more, but not at full price.

It hurts to put anything about The Tick here, but the FCBD offering was not what it could have been. As with Inspector Gadget above, the jokes were spot-on and appropriately meta, but cut out way too early in favor of a listing of characters that I neither recognize nor care about (yet) because I haven't read the books they came from. Nice homage to John Byrne on the cover, but it needed a notation of same. Because I couldn't get a solid read, I'd read more, but not at full price.

Freely Aimed, But Not at Me

Oni's all ages comics this time out don't seem to have any appeal for adults. Power Lunch might show some promise, but Sketch Monsters has booger jokes, and that's where I'm out. Not for me.

The Top Shelf Kid's Club looks awesome for kids, but of the stuff in this issue, only the passive-aggressive Kochalka and the hysterical premise of Pirate Penguin vs Ninja Chicken check in at being stuff for everyone. I'm really happy to see Top Shelf doing so well as a kid's publisher, and hopefully this will reach the right kids and get them hooked on comics for a long time. Pretty much not for me.

Jake the Dreaming is an illustrated novel. Sorry, but that's just not my thing. I read this one casually, and just didn't hook me. Might appeal to those who are bigger YA fans, though.

Got What I Paid for

I'm glad I got to read the 2000AD sampler, because now I know how and why DC comics was ruined. Only the Judge Dredd comic was any good, with most of the rest being over-the-top sledgehammer storytelling or poor parodies that wouldn't make Mad's slushpile. Extremely disappointing while also being educational. Pass, hard-core.

I knew Young Justice, new Young Justice comic, and you, sir, are no Young Justice. Mike Norton's art is good, but the story is entirely too weak and whiny. Despite having the same concept as Peter David's underrated series, this has none of the charm or genuine feeling. I also thought the Batman Brave and the Bold story was quite weak, making me doubt why people are so high on the concept. Disappointing. I'll pass on both.

Not sure why I thought Bluewater might make a good comic, but the Mis-Adventures of Adam West was a whiny, incomplete mess that makes me question if West even looked at this before giving it the go-ahead. A man who actively petitioned to be on Family Guy complaining about how heroes are treated these days? Really? The Things to Come backup wasn't bad, but man, how does a company like this make so many comics? Very disappointing. Avoid.

I'm a fan of classic comics, but I just fail to see the appeal of John Stanley. He's the feature of yet another Drawn and Quarterly Free Comic Book Day sampler, and I'm still not getting why people want to re-read these bland, unfunny, uninspired stories. Still not planning on reading this.

This one pains me almost as much the Tick. Svetlana Chmakova is a great manga artist, but James Patterson's Witch & Wizard reads like it was written from a YA novel randomizer. I have absolutely no interest in this one at all. I'm so sorry, Ms. Chmakova, because I like you but I don't like this stereotypical story from a big-name author who can't be bothered to try.

So that was my Free Comic Book Day reading experience. I found some new stories I want and found a few to steer clear of. How about you? Care to argue a point or two or talk about anything I missed? Have at it!