Man of the Moment

Sean William Scott

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Free Comic Book Day 2008 Reviewed 

As I've done every year prior, I undertook the masochistic task of getting my hands on, and reading, and reviewing, every single Free Comic Book Day book available. This year I missed out on a few, as they failed to get to me in time. I've heard that I didn't miss anything. The review scale is the same as before. If I say Get It, that means that I think the book is worth your attention. If I say It's Free, that means either the book is good, but nothing exciting, and you should probably either be happy with it for being free or pass. Avoid, I would hope, is self-explanatory.

All Star Superman
The best Superman comic in decades, with fantastic art and a real sense of humanity in the writing? If you haven't already been picking up this book, read this, and lose all your excuses for not getting it.
Get It

Amelia Rules: Comics and Stories
An engaging cast of characters, in all ages stories, with suitably dramatic and emotive stories without being preachy, condescending or reminiscent of an after-school special. Oh, and also funny and well drawn.
Get It

Atomic Robo
The lead story here is a fun adventure comic featuring robots, crazy Russian scientists and explosions. It's a little reminiscent of Hellboy in tone, but in a good way.
It's Free

Bongo Comics Free-For-All
Several inoffensive Simpsons stories, mildly amusing at best, but nothing remarkable. The best thing in the book is the art on Nina Matsumoto's manga-fied Simpsons story.
It's Free

Broken Trinity Prelude
A text-heavy recapping of the last several years worth of Witchblade and Darkness comics. The art has a nice, painterly quality to it, but the story is simply dreadful.

Highly uneven in terms of subject matter and artistic quality, there's some momentary diversion to be found here, but nothing very compelling.
It's Free

Comic Book Challenge Showcase
A flip-book, with Hero By Night, a well-drawn but somewhat derivative super-hero comic, and Gunplay, a western with utterly undecipherable plot details, just based on this preview.
It's Free

Comic Book Diner
A collection of all-ages, and mostly very young-skewing at that, stories. As with most of the anthology titles, the quality of material is very uneven, but overall there's more good than bad or indifferent here.
It's Free

Comics Go Hollywood
A sampling of articles from magazines published by TwoMorrows about comic books and film. It's mostly interesting, but it's almost explicitly aimed at the older, long-time comic fan, and much of the material feels a bit randomly chosen and not particularly relevant to the interests of a new or casual comic book reader.
It's Free

Dabel Brothers & Del Rey 2008 Preview
A sampler of comics based on fantasy and sci-fi novels, overall of fairly good quality. The art on many stories is possibly too stylized to be of broad appeal, and the samples are a little short to be very effective, but not a bad package.
It's Free

Dan Dare/Stranded
What we have here is a not interesting at all science-fiction story and a revival of a decades long defunct British sci-fi property. It's hard to tell who the target audience for these is supposed to be, but since neither story is engaging in the slightest, it probably doesn't matter.

This is just horrible. Terrible art and a thread-bare concept that screams "buy me and turn me into a movie."

EC Sampler
It's free EC stories, so there's no question as to the quality of material or its value, but only one of the stories really stand out as an iconic example of the EC style. A good idea, but not the best selection for this purpose.
It's Free

Two excerpts from Drawn & Quarterly's mini-line of, for lack of a better phrase, "indie" manga books. It's good material, and the excerpts stand alone and create interest in the complete story.
Get It

Graphic Classics
A broad selection of artists adapt great works of literature into comics form. A stand-out collection.
Get It

Gyro Gearloose
A bit of a disappointment compared to previous Disney releases from Gemstone, as Gyro stories tend to be more than a little repetitive, even by the standards of Duck comics.
It's Free

Interesting supernatural adventure stories, but there's a strong suggestion here that you should probably already be more than passingly familiar with Hellboy and his supporting cast.
It's Free

Another uneven collection, this time with the added benefit of self-importance, in this sampler of books from Fantagraphics "Ignatz" line of comics. There are a few good stories here, in the few self-contained pieces, but overall there's little to impress.
It's Free

Impact University Volumre 4
Nothing but a glorified ad for pricey "art instruction" books.

Even by the standards of contemporary Archie comics, this is tedious and charmless, and the advertorial nature of the inclusion of the Geppi's Entertainment Museum is off-putting.

Kid Houdini and the Silver-Dollar Misfits
There's an interesting art style on display here, and the idea of a young Harry Houdini solving Scooby-Doo-esque mysteries with his gang of circus side-show freaks is quite clever. A complete story, however, would have been preferred.
Get It

Love and Capes #7
This is a real charmer, a funny super-hero romance book with a distinctive and appealing art style. If you haven't read this before, this is a nice place to start and a good introduction to the book.
Get It

This was fun, a bit too impressed with it's own cleverness, but an amusing take on the "super-villain" concept focusing on the guys who have to do the actual heavy lifting.
Get It

Marvel Adventures: Iron Man & Hulk & Spider-Man
Fairly inoffensive, but feels a bit to "talks down" to kids a bit. As far as introducing new readers to the characters, it's an okay effort, and it nicely capitalizes on upcoming Marvel movies.
It's Free

Maximum Ride
As a manga-style adaptation of a young adult novel, there really isn't anything here to recommend it unless you're already familiar with and a fan of the novels. There isn't even any kind of recap page to explain why people have wings.

The Moth
Nice art, but it's in service to a completely generic super-hero story.
It's Free

Owly and Friends
Nicely illustrated kid-friendly comics. Most of the stories are dialogue free, making this an excellent choice for pre-readers, and the art is simply lovely on almost all these stories, giving the book appeal to all readers.
Get It

Project Super-Powers: The Death-Defying 'Devil
Most of the book is actually taken up by ads, mostly focused on Dynamite's licensed properties. The main story is unremarkable, featuring characters that even long-time comic fans will probably have to strain to remember, and the format chosen, having the characters explain a past adventure, makes for an undynamic book. That the villain is one of the more egregious "Yellow Peril" characters ever produced does not help matters either.

Salem Queen of Thorns
I might have liked this more, if it didn't seem like it only existed in order to have something to hand off to potential film investors. There's probably still some good entertainment to be wrought from the fantasy/mystery genre, and this isn't terrible by any means, but it feels like a means to an end, rather than a finished product.
It's Free

Shonen Jump Special
A good over-view of several Shonen Jump titles, marred by the in media res nature of two of the stories.
It's Free

Sonic the Hedgehog
There is a certain charm to this, and the art is lively. It does definitely talk down to kids, though, and suffers from the same sort of going-through-the-motions quirks that most Archie adventure books have historically displayed.
It's Free

Tiny Titans
Pure, undiluted joy. Great art, cute stories, and fun.
Get It

Transformers Animated
I was actually looking forward to reading this, as I think the character designs for the new Transformers cartoon are fantastic...and then I saw this was a poorly designed fumetti using blurry screenshots instead of an actually drawn book.

Wizard: How To Draw
Wizard has a bad history of putting out completely inappropriate material for FCBD, but this is actually not bad, cover aside, with good drawing advice from talented artists.
It's Free

Worlds of Aspen
I've been reading comics a long time, and I can't tell what the hell is supposed to be going on in any of these stories. I even know the basic concepts of the books featured, and I still can't figure out what's going on. So either I'm a complete illiterate, or this is just inept.

A character I've never heard of, a new status quo for the X-books alluded to, but not really explained, and enemies that as far as I know haven't been seen since the seventies, and weren't very interesting then either. On top of all that, we've got the traced-over-porn art of Greg Land presenting all this to us. It's completely unpleasant to look at, but it's "slick" so I imagine it will go over well, so long as people only look at the pictures and don't try to read the damn thing.

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