|By Zach Patterson||Monday, 23 May 2011|
Well, it’s been awhile, but the lure of Free Comic Book Day compelled us to return. I think Free Comic Book Day is probably one of the smartest things the comic industry does, and it’s a great chance to showcase some of your best comics and get new readers, lapsed readers, or young readers into a store and out with a bunch of comics for free. It put a smile on my face seeing the amount of kids running for a Spider-Man comic and able just to grab it and walk out with it and read it. So which comics were worth the time, and which ones just wasted it? Read on for Spider-Man, Cap/Thor, Locke & Key, Super Dinosaur, and more!
Impressions: This was pretty cool for a one-off freebie. Original story, takes a little bit of time to get the reader up to speed on all things Spidey, and then throws you directly into the action. It’s got Spider-Woman, possessed by a super-pheromone gorilla that can force any ladies to do his bidding just by smelling him, beating the snot out of Spider-Man. Awesome idea. Dan Slott has a great handle on Spidey’s voice and quips, and he really lets loose here. There are some genuine funny moments, like when he pretty much avoids being arrested as a vigilante and avoids any liability to all the damage caused by just shouting he is an AVENGER and billing everything to Tony Stark. I haven’t been a big fan of Ramos’ Spider-Man work (though I’ve enjoyed his work on other projects, but there’s just something about the way he draws Spidey’s mask…) but he does a really excellent job with a frenetic and streamlined style in this issue, and is perfect for all ages. I have no idea why this wasn’t the .1 issue, since those were supposed to be jumping on points (and Spider-Man’s issue was just a Venom issue), but maybe this is even better, since it gets into more hands and is very representative of the regular series at the moment. -Zach
Verdict: Excellent. Would have worked even as a nice backup tale in the real book or a fill-in issue.
Impressions: Of all the Free Comic Book Day releases, this was the one I was most excited about. I was excited not because I am a fan of Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee’s critically well-received Thor: The Mighty Avenger, but rather because I have yet to delve into the series that consumers ignored. In the true spirit of Free Comic Book Day, here was my chance to take a risk-free sample. Not surprisingly, this free comic makes me want to read Thor: The Mighty Avenger even more.
At first glance, the story here might seem a little too… comic-booky. Thor and Captain America from different eras of time are transported to the medieval realm of King Arthur where Loki has imprisoned Merlin in a fiendish ploy for power. But Langridge handles this plot well and the result is just the right amount of childish without being juvenile. There is no heady allegory here, just some good old fashioned comic book teamwork and a sense of good prevailing over evil.
The artwork by Samnee is animated and the facial expressions add to the visual narrative. The colors by Matthew Wilson allow the characters to stand out, finding just the right balance between bright and dull colors.
For a free comic meant as a promotion for an already canceled book, this is one nice story. It certainly makes me want to check out the trades for Thor: The Mighty Avenger, and I am now assured that kids comics does not necessarily mean stupid comics. -Andrew
Verdict: A great story with great art and a great add on for a series that ended way too early.
Impressions: I just picked this up because I loved Darkwing as a kid, and apparently this series is surprisingly decent. And this issue is really good, actually. The comic has deftly managed to move forward the status quo of the tv show into some weird dystopian future where all heroes and villains are gone and a major corporation rules everything, but it still feels pretty kid friendly and funny, which is kind of an amazing feat in of itself. This issue gets to show you how the character has been resigned to his civilian life, checks in with most of the major characters from the show (including the villains in some pretty funny office banter between the former hero Darkwing and villain Megavolt). I was surprised just how great the art was here, as it was aping the style of the show perfectly, while being a bit more detailed and managing to keep a bright and colorful look to what is a pretty dark setting. I’m guessing this was a reprint, but regardless, it worked really well and I would not at all be opposed to reading this series now. -Zach
Verdict: Great nostalgia trip, and manages to move forward from the show and create it’s own identity. Recommended!
Impressions: This book is a nice intro to Green Lantern. It is clipped from the Secret Origin book, and manages to show you the origin of Hal Jordan becoming the GL, while also giving the reader a hint of the big space opera drama that GL can sometimes encompass. I’ve still yet to get into Green Lantern comics, so this was a nice updating of his origin for someone like me, and likely for many people wanting to know what the movie will be about. It did feel a little lazy though on DC’s part. They literally just dropped an issue of that series here, slapped in a preview of Flashpoint and called it a day. The issue even says “Part 2” on the first page and advertises a “Next Issue” at the end of the story. They could have at least edited up a bit of this to seem like they tried to produce something specifically for Free Comic Book Day, but I digress. So yes, it was a little lazy, but it serves its purpose. And the Flashpoint teaser is decent too, as it runs through a very quick Flash primer and then gives you a page or two of the weird and wacky world of Flashpoint for their big summer event. I don’t think I’m going to buy it, but it at least got me more interested than I was. -Zach
Verdict: It’s okay. It served the purpose it should have, propping up the movie advertising blitz and promoting their big event. I feel like they could have done a better job catering to newbies with some montage recaps of current GL events and such, and the story was good but not exactly action packed or anything. I’m a bit surprised this is all DC put out.
Impressions: This series has steadily been getting more and more press, especially with an alleged TV series on the way, so I wanted to check out the free book and see if it was up my alley. This freebie is excerpted from the 3rd miniseries, and isn’t original material, but quickly sets up the story on the first page and gets you up to speed. I’ll admit I still don’t get a lot about the series, but this issue is a fun enough one off issue where you get to see monstrous darkness creatures, and dudes growing to Godzilla sizes and fighting through the wilderness with big beautiful splash pages.
Overall I liked it, but I wish there was a bit more story here to hook me. I still may check out the first trade since I’ve heard nothing but good things, but I found this issue very odd. It says on the inside cover that this is a very kid friendly issue, but then says something along the lines of “but don’t get any of the other ones if you are too young for it! This book is meant for mature readers!” What a weird bait and switch. -Zach
Verdict: Interesting, but it feels like it wasn’t entirely representative of what the series would give me.
Impressions: I will say that this is just about the most excellent value you could ask for on Free Comic Book Day. It’s free, it’s an original story, it’s done by the creators, it’s very kid friendly, and it’s very important, as it is an origin story. I can’t say I am about to go out and start picking up this series regularly, but if I had a kid, it might be a different story. Super Dinosaur seems to be all about tickling that 8 year old itch that every kid has. It’s a cool and fun human-sized dinosaur with a crazy tech suit that is best friends with a relateable, likable little boy. Robert Kirkman definitely write this entirely differently from his other main books like Invincible and Walking Dead, and this one really is just about Saturday morning cartoon style adventures, like finding hidden worlds under the earth with dinosaurs, mad scientists, and talking dinosaurs that play video games. This is pretty much the best way to do a free comic for the general public. -Zach
Verdict: Great stuff. Perfect FCBD issue.