Another good Free Comic Book Day, May 2, coinciding with the opening of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. However, because there was also the local gaming convention and I was running a Monsterpocalypse demo, I won't see Wolverine until later. Items of Note: Love & Capes #10, Atomic Robo/Drone/We Kill Monsters 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 ATOMIC ROBO!), 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. Mini-Mate: It's a blank white Mini-Mate a little over 2" (5cm) tall, with the FCBD 2009 logo on its chest. The printing is a little darker and muddier than the original FCBD Mini-Mate, and the head is solid on top (the original had a hole just the right size for an earphone jack, leading me to repaint it as a iPod Shuffle). Not really an effective ad for the line, though. They'd be better off providing a Wolverine Mini-Mate with a FCBD stamp on the back or something. Blackest Night #0: DC - Okay, what the hell were they thinking? This is all about "We killed Batman, Hal went nuts and died but got better, Barry died and got better, Martian Manhunter is dead, and now someone's gonna desecrate the graves" for the big summer event. Not the best way to attract new readers, eh? Abusing the few characters a walk-in might have heard of, great idea. This is pretty much just an ad aimed at existing readers trying to get them to spend more of their money on another event. Feh. The World of Cars: The Rookie: BOOM! Kids - As far as I can tell, this is a slightly shortened version of the regular #1, plus a short chunk of Incredibles #1. It does a pretty good job of setting up the series and establishing the "unreliable narrator" conceit it uses. I'm no more interested in picking up the regular book than I was before, but if you were on the fence this does look to be a good comic to check out. Fist of Justice #1: Digital Webbing Press - Ah, timely commentary on the 1980s "darkening" of superheroes. A fairly choppy and occasionally incoherent story that sets up the premise, more or less, refers back to previous events without making it clear where to look for those events (Digital Webbing Presents, as was finally established in the end notes) and tries to cram way too much story into a single issue. Too compressed, cutting out the wrong bits sometimes. It's not a good read, and I'm certainly not going to be getting the regular series. Love and Rockets New Stories Free Comic Book Day Edition #1: Fantagraphics - Not to be confused with Love and Rockets New Stories #1, which came out last summer and was 100 pages. This is a sampler version of that, apparently, with two short pieces of ongoing stories and two reprints. My main exposure to Los Bros Hernandez has not been L&R itself, so I'm not really familiar with most of the characters here...although one of the stories is of an all new protagonist (who has big breasts even by Hernandez standards), so it's not entirely indie nostalgia. :) Anyway, if Fist of Justice was incoherent by accident, I think this is supposed to be utterly disconnected. Scene shifts almost at random, lots of inadequately explained backstory, etc. Maybe it's more comprehensible in the full sized book, but I'm not inspired to give it a try. Free Comic Book Day 2009: IDW - This is a flip-book with Transformers Animated on one side and GIJoe on the other. Interestingly, my store put half the stock out TF:A side up on the All Ages table and the other half of the stock GIJoe side up on the main table. The TF:A story is a reprint of "Survival Skils" from TF:A Arrival, so I'm guessing the two GIJoe stories are also reprints. "Survival Skills" is a decent standalone story, although the coloring is kinda offputting. The two more or less standalone pieces by Dixon and Hama (with artists I don't recognize) clearly establish that IDW is rebooting GIJoe, with the first having the Joe team running into mention of Cobra for the first time, and the second involving the recruitment of Duke into the team. Moderately interesting, but not enough to get me buying the sort of jargon-heavy milfic that characterizes Hama and Dixon Joe stories. Comics Festival!: Legion of Evil Press - This is an anthology, mostly one or two page pieces, but led off by a ten page story. I got it because it has a page of Galaxion in it. :) The binding theme of this anthology is that all the creators are Canadian...I didn't know Ryan "Dinosaur Comics" North was Canadian, huh. The ten page "Sardine" story didn't interest me in the least, unfortunately, and I found the "little kid art" style forced. Jellaby is the other star, getting two two-pages, and it's okay. Most of the other half page and one page pieces are fairly aggressively indie and while some are moderately amusing (like "Evil Bacon") none really have me wanting to see more by their creators. The Galaxion page was good, though. Owly and Friends FCBD 2009: Top Shelf - Owly has the lead story, with other stories of Johnny Boo, Yam and Korgi, a similar mix to last year. A pretty good Owly story involving some problem-solving and a too-small greenhouse. Korgi's story is...weird. Apparently Korgi's world is more of a strange fantasy place full of monsters. Kochalka's Johnny Boo (with the help of his son in one tale) is the sort of thing little kids find funny, but it doesn't really retain its charm with adults. Yam gets one page of weirdness. Of the four, Owly is really the only one I'd recommend people check out further (although that's also based on having bought two volumes of it since last FCBD). Free Comic Book Day and Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Gauntlet of Death: Dark Horse - A flipbook, with Star Wars on one side and four short stories (Usagi Yojimbo, Emily the Strange, Beanworld and Indiana Jones) on the other. I got it for the Beanworld, although those two pages are more of a cast listing than actual story. Fairly clever Clone Wars piece, although it depends on a plot device that doesn't normally exist in the setting (i.e. solving a problem that wasn't a problem in any of the cartoons). Decent Usagi Yojimbo story, lackluster Indiana Jones, and Emily is indeed strange. None of these stories really grab me enough to make me start reading the series, even the Beanworld one, a series I've followed for about 20 years. Love and Capes #10: Maerkle Press - Since last FCBD, I've started reading this book by Thom Zahler regularly, although it's amusing to find that a big chunk of my collection is FCBD stuff. This is the flip side of the "Mark gives up his powers for a day" story, with Abby gaining the same powerset as Superman- analogue Crusader. Because Abby's deliberately setting out to experience her fiancee's lifestyle, there's more scenes of traditional superheroic action than usual here, but still plenty of relationship stuff and examination of the genre tropes (without trying to deconstruct those tropes or make them seem laughable). Also, I'm fairly certain there's a reference to Empowered. :) Strongly recommended, even if you have to pay regular price for it. (Note, there's an oops on page 13 that Zahler cops to on his webpage, http://www.thomz.com, but the scene flowed smoothly enough that I didn't even notice the bad balloon placement fairy's actions.) Atomic Robo/Drone/We Kill Monsters Free Comic Book Day 2009: Red5 Comics - Atomic Robo versus Doctor Dinosaur, woot. Atomic Robo may hate Doctor Dinosaur, but I LOVE Doctor Dinosaur. And his crystals! Great short piece by Clevinger and Wegener, and it clearly sets out the nature of Robo's world...sure, it has a lot of weirdness in it, but there's some things that are beyond the pale even for a robot built by Nikola Tesla who's fighting a super-genius velociraptor. Drone is decent, taking the idea of telepresence warfare to humanoid units (although there was a Crimson Dynamo comic that kinda did this years ago). We Hunt Monsters reads like it's probably an excerpt from #1 of its regular series, starting after the beginning (but with a recap that's sufficient). Neither Drone nor We Hunt Monsters really grabbed me, but if I weren't already reading Atomic Robo, this story would have hooked me. Dave Van Domelen, "Ah! Deception! Mammal DECEPTION!" "I'm a ROBOT." "Mammal robot!" "I don't know how to respond to that." - Doctor Dinosaur and Atomic RoboBack to the Main Rants Page.
Flower on back to May 2009.