Dave's Free Comic Book Day 2008 Capsules

     Another good Free Comic Book Day, May 3, coinciding with the opening of
Iron Man.  In fact, before I go into the comics, I'm going to do a quick
review of the movie.  :)

     Iron Man (Movie): Very well put-together, in terms of storytelling,
pacing, character and so forth.  All the actors do very well in their roles
(although count me among those who think Rhodey should have a deeper voice),
although Favreau rather underuses himself as Happy Hogan.  :)  As usually
happens, not all of the cool stuff put into the novelization makes it onto
screen even in sketchy form, but aside from Rhodey's role in the final fight
I don't really miss any of it.  And, oddly, there was actually a character
arc in the movie that wasn't in the novel!  Okay, it was a robot, but still.
I'm not prepared to call this the best superhero movie ever, but that's
mainly because I have difficulty picking #1's in *anything*.  And this is
definitely up in the "hard to choose a #1 from" cluster.  Strongly
recommended.  And stay past the credits.

     Hulk (Movie Trailer): Just a quick note...while there's elements that
make it feel like a sequel to the Ang Lee version (mainly the "start in the
Amazon" bit), it's fairly clear it's a clean reboot.  In fact, it seems to
draw more closely from Ultimate Hulk in terms of the Hulk's origins.  

     As in previous years, I'm not going to review these as themselves...in
other words, I'm not really aiming at whether you should pick up these
specific books.  After all, they're free, if you can find 'em and are the
least bit interested (and your shop lets you grab more than one title), just
snag 'em.  Rather, seeing these as the advertising that they are, I will
decide whether I think you should consider picking up the regular titles, or
books by this publisher in the cases where these aren't tied to specific
titles.  In some cases, of course, I will be biased by my existing buying
habits (BUY AMELIA RULES!), and in others I may recommend you look at it even
if I don't plan to buy it myself...after all, I know that there's plenty of
good stuff out there that simply doesn't strike my fancy.
     In any case, keep in mind that these all interested me at least enough
to pick 'em up for free and write a few lines about, which puts 'em ahead of
a lot of books.

     Heroclix: Obviously, it's Iron Man.  It's the current Extremis armor,
and he has a SHIELD team affiliation.  But there's enough design similarities
between Adi's comic design and the final movie design that it works as a
tie-in.  And cute, he has the special ability Invincible on his first click,
which reduces damage to 1 regardless of the attack.
     Star Wars Miniatures: A 22 point generic Rodian Hunt Master that I have
dubbed Slotho, Greedo's lazy kid brother.  I didn't bother to take the stat
card.  Hm, the left arm is glued into position just a tiny bit too low,
making it look like he got his shoulder dislocated.

     The rest of the comics are in a very rough "how interesting do I think
they'll be" order, although the Pocketmanga's on top for ease of stacking.

     Neotopia: the Perilous Winds of Athanon: Antarctic Press - Volume two of
the critically-acclaimed (hey, I'm a critic and I acclaimed it!) Neotopia
series, in digest size.  It's really just the regular run of it with a "Free
Comic Book Day" sticker over the barcode.  And it's got some staples through
it, suggesting this might have been a binding error that got repurposed for
FCBD.  Still, far better to give it away than to pulp it, eh?  And for the
record, four of the five issues of this volume got a Strongly Recommended
from me the first time around.  In addition to those great issues (which,
admittedly, look a little less impressive in this size), there's a cast page,
all the backup diary material from the original issues, and maps at the end.
If you haven't checked out Neotopia yet, grab this and see what you've been
missing.  (And if you want to see the rest, you might want to consider the
Rod Espinosa DVDROM set, which'll cost less than the remaining four volumes
in paper, and also has several other Espinosa series on top of Neotopia.)  
     The Moth: Rude Dude - This is one I grabbed on a whim, rather than
planning to get.  It's scattered scenes from the first four issues of The
Moth, with some narration boxes sort of trying to tie it all together, but it
really doesn't work.  I couldn't even tell if the Moth is a bounty hunter or
a "regular" vigilante from this.  I appreciate the effort to make a retro
adventure sort of comic, but this preview didn't interest me in reading the
full story (even free online from wowio.com, as advertised in the back).
     Love and Capes #7: Maerkle Press - As in past FCBDs, I'm giving L&C
another chance to wow me.  Previous issues have been good, but not enough to
get me on board as a regular reader.  For those who don't know, this is
basically a sitcom starring homages of Superman and other Justice Leaguers,
with a very good Superman/Batman dynamic.  The super action takes place
mainly between the panels, and this is about the domestic side.  Yeah, it's
been done before, even with Superman homages, but it's done pretty well here.
The one thing that continues to bug me, though, is purely a surface feature
thing.  The speech bubbles aren't white, they're half-transparent so you can
see the art behind them.  I find it distracting and sometimes a little hard
to read.  Still, I think I'll order the TPB coming up in November from IDW.
     Hellboy: Dark Horse - I'm not sure I've ever paid for a Hellboy comic,
but I've certainly got a fair number, between FCBD issues and the pack-ins
with the Hellboy movies.  :)  The inside front cover features the BRPD cast
crossed with Futurama cast, drawn by Groening...and of course Zoidberg is
dressed as Lobster Johnson.  The insides have three short tales: the Mole,
Out of Reach, and Bishop Olek's Devil.  The first seems to be foreshadowing
for another story, but at least it makes some sense on its own.  The second I
didn't follow at all.  The last was a standalone of the 1930s pre-Hellboy
backstory, and was okay.  I'm afraid that if this were my first exposure to
Hellboy, I'd be utterly uninterested in reading more.
     Project Superpowers: the Death-Defying 'Devil: Dynamite Entertainment -
If you look in the indicia, you'll see that this is officially #2.  Not of
the regular PS series, though...I guess they're counting the freebies as a
separate series.  The story is short, mainly covering The Claw's background
as a bunch of heroes sit around a library and talk (meaning this has to take
place significantly later than where the main book is, as most of these guys
haven't gotten back together yet).  Kinda meh, and Andy Smith's art is on the
neutral side.  The majority of the book is house ads for pretty much
everything Dynamite puts out.
     Free Comic Book Day 2008 #1: Marvel - Well, that's the title in the
indicia.  The cover has "Marvel Adventures Iron Man & Hulk & Spider-Man
#AA".  I presume the AA in the issue number location means "All Ages".  It's
the three of them against the Mandarin, and the title splash has a nice retro
image of the Mandarin's rings.  Written by Jeff Parker and Paul Tobin.  Might
be more accurate to consider this a Marvel Adventures Avengers issue, what
with Ant Man also being involved, but I guess you want Iron Man's name on the
cover for the tie-in factor.  Definitely on the high side quality-wise of
Parker's MA Avengers stories...and it has GROTTU!
     The Transformers Animated: Free Comic Book Day 2008: IDW - This is a cel
book of episode 2 of the cartoon (the middle third of the "pilot" movie).
Except for page size, it's identical to the version in the digest volume 1,
but with a new Roll Call page on the inside front cover (just the five
Autobots, Megatron and Starscream...might've been better to ditch the
non-appearing Decepticons and have entries for Sari and Sumdac?).  A decent
choice for a standalone, though, since it's the part of the series that sets
up the "status quo".  Using the first episode might be a touch misleading,
since most of the series isn't about space battles.
     Owly and Friends: Top Shelf Productions - Short pieces with Owly, Johnny
Boo, Yam and Korgi.  I don't recall seeing JB or Yam before, but ISTR Korgi
shared space in a previous FCBD Owly.  The Owly story show the dangers of
Ikea, heh.  Johnny Boo is the only one with words, and the weakest of the
lot.  Korgi is a pretty standard dog-washing gag.  Yam is several short
wordless pieces, on the deliberately bizarre-yet-childlike side.  None of the
"and friends" really interest me in picking up their own books, though.
     Atomic Robo/Neozoic FCBD: Red 5 Comics - Not done as a flipbook, instead
Neozoic gets an inset on the cover (FCBD has a LOT of flipbooks in general).
Nice one-shot Robo story, set in 1961 and involving an underappreciated mad
scientist, a doomsday device, a lot of Soviet robots and your recommended
daily allowance of Robo snark.  :)  The Neozoic tale is also stand-alone,
although even with the inside front cover summary I'm not exactly sure what
it's about.  
     Amelia Rules!: Renaissance Press - Well, while I'm waiting for Diamond
to cough up #20, at least I can count on a FCBD issue every May.  :) Unlike
previous ones, though, this is mostly material from elsewhere.  An excerpt
from the recent "so, your dad's getting deployed?" issue and a preview of an
upcoming graphic novel take up most of the pages.  There's also photos from a
school play based on Amelia Rules! #4 and a short guest-written but Gownley-
drawn Pajamaman story that features his rich mental life.

     Dave Van Domelen, "This was not supposed to happen."  "No, URGH...no,
this pretty much ALWAYS happens." - mad scientist and Atomic Robo.

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