2000 AD–2000 AD
A sampler of current and classic material from the long-lived British weekly. A nice variety of art styles, though all of the stories tend towards the sci-fi and the gory, so not as great a selection of the variety of material available from the publisher.
It’s free

Absolution—Avatar Press
I’ve liked most of the Christos Gage comics I’ve read in the past, but I really don’t need any more “realistic” super-heroes that kill people, thanks.
It’s free

Aphrodite IX #1—Image
Pretty art, and the T&A quotient is actually fairly toned down compared to past incarnations of the title. It’s still almost impossible to actually follow the story, though.
It’s free

Atomic Robo—Red 5 Comics
Each year, Atomic Robo is one of the FCBD highlights, and it’s true this year as well. Fantastic action and humor and art all around. The back-up feature is an introduction to a new title called “Bodie Troll” and I’m in love with the troll cursed with excessive cuteness instantly.
MUST GET IT

Avatar: The Last Airbender/Star Wars—Dark Horse
The usual standards of Dark Horse licensed material apply here. If you’re fans of the properties, you’ll probably enjoy this. If not, you’ll probably be a little lost as to what is supposed to be going on.
It’s free

Bongo Comics Free-For-All—Bongo Comics
Pretty much the same material Bongo presents every year: a sampling of Simpsons comics that feel slightly past their sell-by date and even more neutered than what the show has become. Nice Sergio Aragones art, though.
It’s free

Buck Rogers—Hermes Press
Most of this book is a reprint of a Buck Rogers Sunday strip storyline. For fans of classic comics material, this may hold some interest, but it’s probably going to read as too hokey and dated for most readers.
It’s free

Chakra the Invincible—Graphic India
While I’m all for seeing greater diversity in comics, superhero comics in particular, kids comics especially, this is pretty much just a collection of fight pages, with not much in the way of story.
It’s free

Damsels: Mermaids—Dynamite
Not so much a “dark reimaging” of a fairy tale as a rather rote sequel.
It’s free

DC Nation Super Sampler—DC Comics
This new Beware the Batman cartoon has a very harsh and angular art style I’m not sure I care for, and an Alfred who looks like a 60s Disney movie thug. Otherwise, this is pretty typical DC kids fare, probably of most interest to adults for the Amethyst cast bio pages included.
It’s free

Disney Fairies—Papercutz
Cute stories about Tinkerbell and other fairies. Attractive art, but never really rises above your average licensed comic level.
It’s free

Endangered Weapon B—AAM/Markosia
The lead story is a steampunk absurdist adventure tale by David Tallerman and Bob Molesworth which shows promise and has attractive art. The rest of the stories are presented too briefly to fairly judge, but none initially interest me. But the lead story does have me intrigued. Maybe I just like the ideas of dodderingly racist British explorers and bears in mech suits.
It’s free

Fubar—Fubar Press
War comics from various eras of history, only with zombies. *sigh*
Avoid

Grimm—Dynamite
I’m about a season and a half behind on the show, so this had spoilers galore. The art is workmanlike and the story isn’t much more remarkable. It’s disappointing, because I had been considering picking this up as a series, but if this is what the book is going to look like, I’m probably not going to bother.
It’s free

Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.—Marvel Comics
These are really incredibly ugly photo comics adapting episodes of the cartoons. The cartoons may be good (though what we see here isn’t promising) but the presentation here is so unattractive I’m not inclined to find out.
Avoid

Infinity—Marvel Comics
A joyless prequel to the next Marvel cross-over, capitalizing on presumed new reader interest in Thanos. Who, outside of a back-up reprint, barely appears. Normally the problem with this sort of thing is that it’s impossible to follow without already reading a bunch of books, but it’s not an issue here, because almost nothing happens whatsoever, and no familiar characters really appear. There is also a few page preview for “Endless Wartime” which Marvel is advertising as their first original graphic novel, which is a nice way to toss the 39 they published between 1982 and 1989, not to mention all those “Season One” books they’ve been putting out, down the memory hole.
It’s free

Judge Dredd Classics—IDW
Attractive reprint of the first Judge Death story, with Brian Bolland art, as well as some other Dredd related Bolland material. Good quality stuff that should be appealing now that Dredd seems popular with US readers again.
It’s free

Kaboom Summer Blast—Boom Entertainment
An assortment of Kaboom kids comics, mostly licensed properties that I have no real interest in, and in at least two cases do not understand the appeal of in even a very slight way.
It’s free

Kellerman/L’Amour—Bantam
I didn’t know a Thomas Yeates illustrated adaptation of a Louis L’Amour novel was something I would want, but here we are. The Michael Gaydos illustrated adaptation of Kellerman’s “The Web” seems intriguing as well, but given my tastes I’m probably more inclined to track down the novel.
Get it

Marble Season—Drawn and Quarterly
Gilbert Hernandez’s semi-autobiographical childhood memoir expertly captures the realities and nuance of that age. It’s brilliant work from a mature creator. And this package includes an “aftwards” that “contextualizes” the material for those Team Comix wankers still around, unable to just enjoy a good comic on its own merits.
Get it, but rip out the back matter

Mass Effect/RIPD/Killjoys—Dark Horse Comics
Setting aside the video-game tie-in, these are fairly good, but typical of the Dark Horse style at the moment: high concept, vaguely horror-ish, not bad but not remarkable. The Mass Effect tie-in is…a Mass Effect tie-in.
It’s free

Molly Danger—Action Lab
Really nicely illustrated and engaging girl-friendly super-hero comics in the lead, and an even more impressive “Princeless” back-up story. This is the kind of impressive, best-foot-forward material I like to see the comics industry promoting for FCBD
Get it

Mouse Guard/Rust—Archaia
Archaia’s selection of material usually turns out to be the highlight of any FCBD, and that looks to be the case here as well. A flip-book with a collection of beautifully illustrated and engaging shorts from a variety of titles.
Get it

Mr. Puzzle—Capstone
This is just absolutely peculiar, and the coloring hurt my eyes, which mostly just means I am too old to be the target audience for this.
It’s free

NFL Rush Zone—Action Lab
The lead here is nicely drawn, and the idea of football super-heroes lends itself to cynical blogger jokes, but it’s probably good material for kids into sports who are reluctant readers. The fantasy back-up, “Skyward,” is more to my taste, and also well done.
It’s free

Overstreet Comic Book Marketplace—Gemstone Publishing
Every year they put this out, and every year it misses the point of FCBD in every possible way, pushing comics as collectibles and investments rather than something you read and enjoy.
Avoid

Pippi/Anna and Froga—Drawn and Quarterly
I can’t make up my mind if I like the primitivist nature of these European kids comics or not. They’re aggressively weird, and it continually feels that these things are being pitched at hipster adults and not kids. But they’re cute and funny.
It’s free

Prince Valiant—Fantagraphics
Good quality reprints of a Hal Foster “Prince Valiant” story, in line with the exceptional work Fantagraphics has been doing on their reprint projects. Probably of more interest to folks interested in comics history than a casual reader, though.
It’s free

Ramayan 3392 AD—Graphic India
Beautifully illustrated shorts based on Hindu gods, with a slight sci-fi edge to them. Interesting material and worth a look.
It’s free

Rated Free for Everyone—Oni Press
Oni generally does a good job with their all ages books, and this is no exception. Mermin the Merman is a cute kids story and the Crogan Adventures short is up to the standards of that series as well.
Get it

The Red Ten—Comix Tribe
*sigh* “Gritty”, “mature” comic with JLA stand-ins, as set up for a series about a Joker stand-in killing people.
Avoid

RuRouni Kenshin: Restoration/Dragonball—Viz
Mostly stand alone chapters from a samurai drama and a martial arts comedy, both fairly known properties at this point. Probably cool for kids into manga for whom Dragonball hasn’t been horribly tainted by being something their dad was into.
It’s free

Scratch 9—Hermes Press
Cute comic about a cat who becomes involved with a mad scientist, and then strange stuff happens. It’s actually pretty charming, with appealing art, and just enough of a weird edge to appeal to kids and adults.
Get it

Sesame Street/Strawberry Shortcake—Ape Entertainment
Pretty and charming kids books aimed at very young kids. For licensed books, very nicely done.
It’s free

The Smurfs—Papercutz
The usual nice selection of Peyo Smurf stories and other kids comics from Papercutz. Annoying Orange has nice art from Mike Kazaleh, but Ariol was slightly off-putting due to the attempt at comic self-involvement from the characters.
It’s free

Sonic and Mega Man: Worlds Collide Prelude—Archie Comics
I have absolutely no idea what any of this is.
It’s free

Spongebob Freestyle Funnies—Bongo Comics
I don’t get Spongebob’s appeal. I really don’t. These are…weird kids comics that feel in line with me just really not understanding what’s great about Spongebob.
It’s free

The Steam Engines of Oz—Arcana
Nicely illustrated, and while I’m generally sick of all things Oz and Steampunk at the moment, this was surprisingly good.
It’s free

The Strangers—Oni Press
A loving tribute to 60s TV sci-fi. Half Avengers, half Doctor Who, all weird and go-go boots. Pretty fantastic first issue.
Get it

The Suff of Legend/Finding Gossamyr—Th3rd World Studios
Beautiful fantasy comics, each story acting as a good, general introduction to the series featured.
Get it

Superman: Last Son of Krypton—DC Comics
So, with a new Superman movie with fairly positive buzz coming up, a new status quo in the regular titles, DC decides to lead with…a reprint of a several year old story, an incomplete one at that, that ties in more with the generally not well thought of at the moment “Superman Returns” than “Man of Steel.”
I really don’t understand DC sometimes.
It’s free

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles New Animated Adventures—IDW
I was never a Turtle fan, so I have no horse in this being faithful either to the original comic or the cartoon. This is pretty typical kids TV tie-in comic fare, but the art style has a blocky look that’s pretty arresting.
It’s free

The Tick—NEC
Amusing and strange story, about what you’d expect from a Tick comic, really.
It’s free

Top Shelf Kids Club—Top Shelf Comics
Nice assortment of short, all ages stories from Top Shelf, all pretty familiar if you’ve picked up one of their FCBD books in the past.
It’s free

Uglydoll Comics—Viz
A collection of UglyDoll, Hello Kitty, Pokemon and something called Mameshiba comics. The art is colorful and lively and kid appealing, even if the stories feel slightly more like something an adult thinks a kid would like.
It’s free

Valiant 2013—Valiant
The relaunch of the Valiant line has proven to be fairly controversial, especially as regards ownership of some of the properties. This is the first opportunity I’ve had to look at any of the current material, and frankly, it’s pretty generic indie super-hero fare. The lead story is a prequel to a cross-over, has some off-putting violence, and not much else to say.
It’s free

Valiant Masters—Valiant
Oh, hey, reprints of 90s comics.
Avoid

The Walking Dead—Image
Yeah. I like Adlard’s art, but I’m still not even remotely interested in anything to do with zombies.
It’s free

World of Archie Digest—Archie
A full (almost) 100 page digest sampler of mostly classic Archie strips from a variety of artists. A good selection of material presented in an attractive and appealing format.
Get it

Worlds of Aspen 2013—Aspen
A short prequel to a new Fathom storyline and lots and lots of ads for other Aspen books.
Avoid

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© 2012 Dorian Wright Some Images © Their Respective Copyright Holders