Free Comic Book Day has come and gone. You’ve already read everybody else’s reviews. Now it’s my turn. With all I have to do (including a wedding I’m going to Friday night–no, not mine–luckily the Friday Night Fight finale can be scheduled on autopilot), I don’t get to sit there and just read a big stack of comics. So that’s why it took so long to get here. And now that it’s here, what did I finally pick up and what did I think? I’ve been putting up the reviews as I wrote them up at ComiXology, but spoiling them is no big deal. It’s not like they’ll be easy to get. Still, they’re spoiler blocked.
It should be noted that certain titles did not end up in my ownership, because my local stores didn’t pick them up. So missing where Atomic Robo and Friends, The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, Impact University v5, Love and Capes, and the Stuff of Legend Preview. However, I did get these comics:
Green Lantern: Darkest Night #0
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
WRITER: Geoff Johns
PENCILER: Ivan Reis
INKER: Oclair Albert & Rob Hunter
COLORIST: Alex Sinclair
LETTERER: Nick Napolitano
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Adam Schalgman
EDITOR: Eddie Berganza
At Batman’s grave, Hal and Barry compare notes about their own funerals. When they leave, Black Hand arrives, grabs a skull (possibly Batman’s–or is it Batman? Darn you RIP and Final Crisis!), and speaks his oath, which is supposed to bring the new Black Lanterns to life!
What they got right: Johns does a good job showing Barry and Hal’s emotional responses to their deaths, and the contrasting circumstances (noble sacrifice vs turning evil–blamed on a parasite, but what can you do?) of their deaths and returns. The art is really good, and the art team captures the various generations rather well. There are also files about all the current Technicolor Lanterns DC’s stuffing in our faces.
What they got wrong: This one is all Johns. It’s been said in other reviews that knowing the DC Universe is essential to following the story. That’s a bit strong, but not by much. You have to know what’s currently going on, although they do bring you up to speed on a couple points. However, Johns is off on parts of his history. His grave was “desecrated” by a past version of himself, not by an “ally”. The fate of Flash’s mother is also a more recent bit of stupidity, and one of those things I only know from other titles, so readers have to wonder what they heck they’re talking about. Johns and the rest of the “fanfic brigade” need to do their history research. Real fanfic is better researched.
Also, why is Hal’s symbol floating around him and what’s with Barry being surrounded by lighting and apparently moving at superspeed even to just bend down?
Recommendation: Word is they had a different comic in mind to set up what’s about to happen. Sonic the Hedgehog had an offering this FCBD that took it’s cues from Marvel’s “Saga” freebies, and maybe that would have worked better here. Also, they’re not exactly selling me on the DCU, and I DO know what’s going on. They really need to draw new readers at DC, and I don’t see this doing it.
Cars: The Rookie
PUBLISHER: Boom Kids (March 2009–I’m thinking someone messed up the indicta here. The comic isn’t 22 pages, and the blurb indicate this isn’t the full issue #1.)
WRITER: Alan J. Porter
ARTIST: Albert Carreres
COLORIST: Emily Kantalz
LETTERER: Deron Bennett
EDITOR: Paul Morrissey
COVER: Allen Gladfelter
Lightning McQueen is being interviewed by the Racing Sports Network. He tells about the racing in the local championship, although he does embellish a bit. He’s a jerk on the track, and gets two cars injured. They take their revenge on the next race, which was important for Lightning to get a sponsor to get into the Piston Cup.
What they got right: Like in The Incredibles comic (which is previewed), the art doesn’t try to imitate the computer images of the Disney/Pixar movie, but instead uses the character models the way they would live actors. The story comes off rather well, and you do get the sense that Lightning is full of himself.
What they got wrong: Not much. It does it’s job, but I don’t know if this is the full comic, or just most of it.
Recommendation: They’ve got me interested in checking out the full comic, so mission accomplished.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1
25th Anniversary/Free Comic Book Day edition
PUBLISHER: Mirage Publishing (May 2009)
WRITER: Peter Laird
ARTIST: Keven Eastman
Actually, no credits except the following are given. I’m basing this on the opening written by Peter Laird.
EDITOR IN CHIEF: Peter Laird
MANAGING EDITOR: Dan Berger
DESIGN: Eric Talbot
DEDICATED TO: Jack Kirby and Frank Miller
In a trash-strewn alley, for mutant turtles, Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo, and Raphael, square off against a street gang, and take them out. However, this was only the final test for their true foe. Years ago in Japan, a ninja named Hamato…you know what? The comic is available to read at the official Ninja Turtles website. Just go read it for yourselves. However, there’s nothing like having the comic right in your hands, so this was my big must have comic from Free Comic Book Day, and despite the ones I missed out on in the upper tier, I’m glad this one was in the comics they got.
For the 25th anniversary, Mirage Studios reprinted their first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The forward, written by Laird, notes some interesting things. For one, they never planned to have an issue #2. Also, as we all know, the Shredder was never planned to be anything more than a one-off (who was later offed) villain. It was the cartoons and movies that made Oroku Saki, the Shredder, an iconic foe for the Turtles. It’s a bit inspiring to see what they planned and what became of it. It just goes to show you that you never know what can happen, and sometimes, that’s a good thing.
The rest of the reviews are rather difficult to do in my usual format, so I’m breaking it. Most are compilations, and the Sonic: Evolution of a Hero is just a catch-up to what’s been going on, so it’s not even worth reviewing in the normal set-up that I use at both my blog and ComiXology.
I will, however, present you with the cover to the series. I do like these “saga” style books. This one doesn’t do the straight-thru history like Marvel’s “Saga” giveaways. Instead, they sort of jump back and forth with focuses on different characters and events. Personally, I prefer Marvel’s style. It’s like reading through the entire timeline of the character. That’s what Archie should have done, and gave us a sort of timeline to set our old comics by.
However, what they give us here isn’t bad. It kind of glosses over the Ixis Naugus years, Station Square, and other big moments in the life of the Freedom Fighters, and sticks with Sonic’s battles with Robotnik, some the personal relationships between the Fighters, a barest-bones overview of Knuckles and the Guardians, and little else. I understand that this book is mostly a set-up for the upcoming big bang of issue 200, but it’s kind of a shame. Still a good way to get caught-up in preperation for the next game changer.
Bongo Comics Free For All
(Bongo Comics, 2009)
I’m pretty sure these are all reprints of other Simpsons comic stories. The third story, with Homer Simpson as Pieman and Bart as the Cupcake Kid is from a Simpsons Super Special that I have, so I can at least confirm that.
The first story, written by Chuck Dixon by the way, has Bart and Milhouse getting the last two special giveaway comic at a Krusty the Clown owned fast food joint. The comic stars Krusty having the mascots take part in a no-rules race to keep their job, only to fire them all when he initiates a merger with a donut chain. The kids abandon the comics, claiming they won’t want them. However, Comic Book Guy is sure they’ll be back for the nostalgia in their adulthood. I think we can relate. I have a few issue of The Adventures of Kool-Aid-Man, so I probably shouldn’t comment further.
A Futurama story has Leela and Amy going shopping. Amy gives Leela a makeover (as in Amy-style fashion) and she’s a big hit with the guys. Jealous Amy redoes Leela’s look (which suspiciously resembles Marge Simpson), but Leela gets her back later. Kind of neutral on this one.
Finally is the aforementioned story. Professor Frink is turned into the super villain Professor Fink by Snake and uses an age-swapping machine to make diamonds and ages coins. Used on Pieman (Homer) and the Cupcake Kid (Bart), they’re now more like Cupcake Man and the Piekid. The two must now get their ages switched back and get Frink back to his old self. I enjoyed it the last time I read it, but I prefer Bart as Bartman. Maybe he could give the Cupcake Kid costume to Lisa.
The best part to me is a three-part special that will take place in their comics in June. Krusty the Clown gets control of the Radioactive Man character, and give him a make-over. Simpsons Comics has the beginning of the story, Bart Simpson has the youngin’ trying to get a sneak peek at the new RM, and Simpson’s Super Spectacular debuts the new Radioactive Man. How long will it last?
William Shatner Presents
PUBLISHER: Bluewater Productions
There are three stories in this comic, all written by William Shatner. They’re not complete stories, as far as I can tell. The first one is Tekwar Chronicles, a prequel to his Tekwar novel series, showing the crime that put hero Jake Cardigan in the cooler. I’ve read the first novel (liked it), saw the TV series (not bad, not great), and played the video game (I recommend not doing that, even if you can play old DOS games), so I know something about it. That’s the only reason it looks interesting.
The other two stories, which to my knowledge are exclusive to Bluewater, are Man of War and Quest for Tomorrow. MoW just has some civilians getting shot because of something they found, only to go to two people on an airplane talking about settling a dispute over chocolate planting fields in Australia that could have led to war. I…don’t get it. QfT has three street racers, possibly on an alien planet, that could have been interesting (and decent for kids if not for the curse word) but you don’t learn a lot about it. If I see Tekwar or Quest for Tomorrow on the shelf, I may give them a look. I have zero interest in Man Of War, however, and I should also note that of all the comics I picked up, this one has the flimsiest paper. That doesn’t bother me, it’s not super-poor quality, and if using that paper would bring down the price of other comics, I’d be all for it. It does bother me on the cover, however. I’ve had stronger covers in mail-a-way and PSA comics.
The last comic for review is a flip book.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse (May 2009)
SCRIPT: Henry Gilroy
ART: Ramón K. Pérez
LETTERING: Michael Heisler
Set during the Cartoon Network series, Jedi Master Fisto has to prove to the Rishi chieftain (apparently the Rishi evolved from owls–what do I know, I’m a creationist) that brains is better than brawn while trying to break into a Separatist stronghold. Only 8 pages, but a good read.
On the flip side is a set of the only original stories I picked up this Free Comic Book Day. The first is a Usagi Yojimbo story in which Usagi finds a place to spend the night, only to get caught up in marital strife, only to be killed, only to wake up to find the events all happened years ago and the house is just ruins now. Freaky ghost story, courtesy of creator and writer Stan Sakai that makes me really take a look at this series. You win this round, Stan.
The others not so much. Emily the Strange is just too strange to go into, and I have no idea what’s even going on outside of Emily trying to save a family tree that’s actually a tree. Beanworld is just an overview of the series, and…I don’t get it. An Indiana Jones story by Mark Evanier is pretty good, but I’m not a fan of Professor Jones.
All said, though, a pretty good comic.
And now some other notes from this year’s Free Comic Book Day:
My local comic store isn’t big and famous enough to bring in the big names like some others (one place had a full-on convention during FCBD), but it did bring in some local talent (who make a mean cookie–which they decorated with three of the Technicolor Corps symbols–Green, Yellow, and I think Red). Death Ray Studios is a local duo who does a podcast on their blog, and is getting into the webcomic game. The first one is “Vampire High School”, in which Dracula wakes up to find all his money gone (it was a long nap), and he’s forced to go to high school. The first strip is up, and we’re promised new ones every Thursday. Not my thing, but could be interesting. They also handed out previews of their next comic, Adventures of Gadgeteer and the Pummeler. Take a look.
Wish I could draw like that.
Another, not so close to my location online comic group, Action Age, made their own Free Comic Book Day comic. Why, I don’t know. They’re comics are already free anyway. Still, why not give it a proper review:
The Danger Ace #0
STORY: Chad Bowers
PENCILER/ COVER COLORS: Jerry Hinds
INKER: Matt Heltner
In the 1930′s, Ezra Kincade, the new Danger Ace is hired to take on a zombie King Kong-sized gorilla. However, another group was hired to rescue the girl in his cluches. Danger Ace is shot, although he later thinks it wasn’t accidentally by the hired guns, but a failed assassination attempt, possibly linked to the fate of the previous Ace. Realizing that the ape could kill a lot of people, Danger Ace uses the hired guns’ blimp to blow him up.
What they got right: I’m betting many of you read the words “zombie King Kong”, and are just reading this while waiting for your download to finish. It’s not the first comic to set a black costumed hero in a setting where blacks were still treated as second class citizens, but they do a good job of it. The art is amazing, the characters well done for a one-shot, and the world believable, although probably an alternate 1930′s. You don’t hear too much about hired guns using blimps in the 1930′s.
What they got wrong: The whole comic is screaming for color, but we only get the cover. Too bad, but the art is still fantastic on it’s own. Also, since Free Comic Book Day is supposed to bring people into the comic store, and Action Age Comics are free anyway (at least for now), did this have to be a FCBD book?
Recommendation: Download and judge for yourself. Zombie King Kong. That should be all you need. I hope there’s some kind of Action Age compilation waiting to be printed. This and Impossible are two of my favorites from this group.
Finally, I haven’t had the opportunity to look it over myself, but at least one of the comics I missed to the higher tier, Atomic Robo has been put up online by Red 5, the folks who made the comic. It’s still not the same as actually holding it in my hands, but at least I can check it out.
And now the curtain closes on Free Comic Book Day. It’s back to paying $4.00 for less content than I used to get for 75¢. At least until next year.