Well, I could pretty much copy my intro from last year’s FCBD coverage. I did pretty much the same thing. I didn’t go to the comic book store, instead spending my time with boxing, beer, and babes. I got my free comics early, so I can still review these things.
Bongo Comics: Free-For-All
I’m about as big of a Simpsons fan as you’re gonna find, but I don’t read the comics because they’re not free and the immense talent of the actors is absent. However, in the interest of having as much fun as I can, I tried my best to insert the voices myself while reading. We get four Simpsons tales here, which makes the issue feel packed. The first, by Chuck Dixon, isn’t very good. The second, by the great Sergio Aragones, isn’t so much good, but is great to see the old master render some of the my favorite characters. The last two stories, however, are pretty darn funny. The last one is especially great in the comics format, as it pays homage to so many of them, as well as the return of the comic-esque versions of Bart Simpson that we’ve seen on the show. For free, funny fluff, this offering is damn good.
DC Kids Mega Sampler
This comic is always fun, most notably because of Art Baltazar’s Tiny Titans. His charming humor and artistic style appeals to both kids and adults, particularly those well-versed in DC lore. Any comic that contains Comet the Super Horse and Streaky the Cat is a comic for me. The other stories included were a brief Shazam yarn and a “Batman: Brave and the Bold” adventure. That one wasn’t as good as the cartoon, which I love, but did involve Martian Manhunter and the White Martians. Seeing Grant Morrison creations in a kids comic is a great thing.
Boy, this is a bit of a tragedy. The great Jim Shooter is past his prime, and this issue proves it. The entire comic is just so outdated. It’s hard to read it to begin with, and when you try to actually analyze it, the mediocrity is palpable. I could barely make it through the first story, let alone the second one. The first story is drawn by Denis Calero. I’ve enjoyed his work on previous projects, but here he colors himself. The colors look too computerized, and they completely overpower Calero’s pen.
This was an odd move, offering part of a hardcover containing several different artists working on all sorts of fairy tales. I suppose it raises awareness for the book, but if you dislike this offering, you won’t want to buy the hardcover, and even if you like what you see, you already own the stories you enjoyed for free. Why take the risk and pay thirty dollars for several more stories that you may or may not like? As for the stories included, it’s a mixed bag, ranging from the truly mesmerizing to the agonizingly bland. It also displease me that the stories deviate too far from the original material, making for an odd bastardization of classic material, rather than the fresh homage the editors hoped for.
This was my most anticipated comic, with Fraction and Romita onboard, a normal page count, only at reduced size because Marvel is run by bastards. However, even at that small size, this comic still feels grand, particularly at times when Thor stares ominously stares at the heavens while frogs rain down. This comic does have its flaws. Romita seems a bit confused by the new Iron man design, with extra LED lights spontaneously appearing mid-issue. And Fraction definitely tells a simple story, writing for newbies and kids alike. That said, this is about as good as a free comic can get. With Fraction’s embrace of larger-than-life superheroics and Romita’s bold, bulky style, this comic feels like a modernized Lee and Kirby adventure. Now, that’s a great way to introduce people to comics.
I’ve never read any Mouse Guard before, but I’ve heard good things and the art looks impressive enough. Indeed, David Peterson is a fine artist. His work is absolutely charming, and he brilliantly envelops us into his world. His writing, however, leaves much to be desired. This wasn’t even a comic, just dull prose laid upon wonderful art. The omnipresent narrative captions added nothing at all to the images. It could just be my ignorance of the regular series, but this is a free comic. It’s supposed to compel me to buy the actual book, which this doesn’t at all.
War of Supermen
Really, this is the idea that’s taken over a year to culminate? We knew this was going to happen the very second the new Kryptonians were discovered. The idea’s execution couldn’t be blander, with Gates and Robinson’s stale dialogue and predictability. Eddy Barrows provides the art, and I suppose it suits the narrative well, as it looks like a DC “house style” with its fifth-generation Geof Darrow style mixed with a bit of sketchy Jim Lee. After the story’s conclusion, we’re given an illustrated Wikipedia article featuring a few artistic superstars, including David Finch’s first interior work at DC. When an illustrated Wikipedia article is the highlight of the comic, you know you’ve got something pretty bad.
Yow! John Stanley Library
Oh, I was suckered in by that brilliant cover designed by Seth, who recently released his magnum opus, George Sprott. That, I can recommend, but this offering from John Stanley I cannot. It’s look, writing, and even the pages it’s printed on are utterly outdated. I suppose a bit of nostalgia isn’t such a terrible thing, but it’s certainly not for me.