In this installment: Futures End, Hello Kitty and Friends, Rocket Raccoon, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Avatar/Itty Bitty Hellboy/Juice Squeezers, The Tick, Valiant Universe, Armor Hunters/Rai, Transformers vs. GIJoe, Atomic Robo/Bodie Troll/Haunted. After a few years of having trouble getting many of the books, I had pretty good luck this year, between Hastings (media chain store) and Hurley's Heroes in Joplin. Really, the only one I had interest in that I couldn't find was Steam Wars, which Hurley's ran out of just before I got there. So, here's the ground rules on these reviews. As free books, they're essentially extended ads. That means they're trying to get us to buy something later, whether it be another comic, or a movie, or even a roleplaying game. Some of these books are things I had not intention of buying but could be convinced, and a few are ones I already get (like Atomic Robo). I'll be reviewing these based on how well I think they do their job, bonus points for convincing me to start picking up a book I wasn't already planning on. The New 52 Futures End: DC - In a dark future, robotic protectors have decided that the best way to protect the world is to eliminate all life. A ragged band of aging heroes fights a losing battle to stop them, culminating in a desperate use of untried time travel technology to send a lone hero back to stop the robotic regime before it starts. So, yeah, the whole Future's End event that this sets up is DC trying to do Days of Future Past at the same time as the original is getting a movie. But instead of evoking the horror of concentration camps as Days did, this one is going straight for body horror with nanotechnological cyber-infestation. It also ups the ante with the much-commented-on "graft Black Canary's head into the chest of Frankenstein's Monster as a weapon" scene. Skip this wannabe-Warren-Ellis stuff and go see Peter Dinklage in a 1970s wide-lapel suit instead. Hello Kitty and Friends: Perfect Square - And now to cleanse the palate from Futures End. I didn't see any Owly FCBD this year (a little digging shows there is a Top Shelf book, but it doesn't feature Owly, so maybe I simply failed to notice it), but this fills that role pretty well, down to the "wordless" format. Like Owly, they occasionally cheat with pictogram speech bubbles or signs. The storytelling has a very dreamlike quality in the sense that it's hard to tell if there's even a dividing line between daydreams and what's "really" happening to Kitty and her friends. It doesn't quite sell me on looking for more Hello Kitty comics, but it's a pretty good preview. Rocket Raccoon #1: Marvel - Two stories in this one, a new Rocket Raccoon piece and a reprint from the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon tie-in comic. I haven't really been paying a lot of attention to Cosmic Marvel (or Marvel in general) lately, so I don't know if bringing back Rocket's old supporting cast is new for this book or something that's been doing in GotG already, but it was nifty to see them again. No shout-out to Mantlo and Mignola, though. The Spider-Man bit was...meh. Not that there's currently a comic for that to promote (and if it's coming back, I wouldn't buy it). That said, if Caramanga is going to be putting out a regular book with the Rocket Raccoon cast (including the new addition), I might pick it up. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Papercutz - The rather densely packed intro by Jim Salicrup (which seems to use the OHOTMU font) establishes that this standalone story takes place between scenes of eps 17-18 of the second season of MMPR (Tommy as the tiger-themed White Ranger), which would suggest that the GN being promoted is aimed more at the long-time fan. But then the first several pages are devoted to explaining who everyone is, something you do for people who aren't long-time fans. Kinda trying to have cake and turn it into a Zord too. The writing definitely captures the feel of the old MMPRs, although in my case that's because I find it too intentionally cringeworthy. At least it adequately warns me to avoid the graphic novel. Avatar the Last Airbender: Dark Horse Comics - Plus Itty Bitty Hellboy and Juice Squeezers. The Avatar short piece manages to be a polemic against shaming of "fake geek girls" while still mostly fitting in the Avatar universe (with the obligatory Comic Shop Guy stand-in being a firebender, natch), and it was a lot less shrill than other stories about the topic, but still, meh. The two-page Itty Bitty Hellboy was okay. The Juice Squeezers was horribly done from the perspective of getting people interested. It buries the lead all the way on the last page, making for a horribly confused story that only makes sense when you hit the last page, and even then it's iffy. Definitely doesn't tempt me to buy the graphic novel. The Tick: Free Comic Book Day 2014: NEC - I sort of drifted away from Tick once not only Edlund was gone, but so were most of the people who'd directly picked up the torch from him. The main story by McClelland is a bit by the numbers (doing with The Collector what Nigh-Omnipotus did with Galactus), but has some clever bits in it. His three-page backup, though, felt a lot more like the sort of thing Edlund might have written back in the day, as opposed to a pastiche/homage. I'll keep an eye out for Tick on the shelves in the future, assuming the shops in Amarillo carry it. Valiant Universe #1: Valiant - This is actually promoting an upcoming Valiant Universe tabletop RPG. It's an OHOTMU/Who's Who sort of book, good for quickly getting caught up on the current revision of the setting, which might become relevant for me if I pick up the Priest-written Quantum & Woody book that's coming out soonish. Anyway, while it doesn't necessarily help push any one title in particular, it does a good job of lowering some of the entry barriers for anyone who'd been thinking of getting back into Valiant. Armor Hunters featuring Rai: Valiant - Basically, two snippets of upcoming books involved in the Armor Hunters event (Armor Hunters itself, and X-O Manowar) and then a preview of Rai, which doesn't seem to be part of the main setting at all. Nothing really grabbed me. Transformers vs. GIJoe #0: IDW - What if both Transformers and GIJoe were launched in 1984 as Kirby pastiches, with a touch of Steranko? That seems to be the high concept here, complete with deliberately dated coloring and yellowed gutters to make it look like this was an actual thirty year old comic that had sat in drawer somewhere for all that time. Much like the deliberate retro camp of the MMPR comic isn't for me, I didn't really care for this book, which is prelude to a series launching in July. It tries too hard to be retro-camp, the homages are shallow, and if this exact book had come out 30 years ago I would have thought it was bad then too. Atomic Robo/Bodie Troll/Haunted Free Comic Book Day 2014: Red5 Comics - Well, I'm not going to stop reading Atomic Robo any time in the near future, but the combo book format does give them a chance to sell me on a couple of other titles. The Robo story is, as usual, worth the tracking down of the book for itself. Because Action Mycology is totally a thing. The Bodie Troll story is pretty weird...although as far as I can tell from a bit of poking around online it's a good indication of the regular book, so this story succeeds as promotion. The Haunted only gets four pages, seems like a survival horror sort of thing, meh. Dave Van Domelen, "Uh, maybe we shouldn't introduce EXPLOSIVES into an unstable environment that's ALREADY ON FIRE?!" "Correction, yes we should. (BOOM) See? It all worked out." - Tesladyne employees, Atomic Robo et al FCBD 2014Back to the Main Rants Page.
Back to the 2014 Rants Page.