Review: Free Comic Book Day 2009

I was a terrible fan on FCBD. I didn’t even go to a comic shop. You know what I did? I spent the day hanging out with friends. New friends, old friends, beer, sports, and girls culminating with the Manny Pacquiao vs. Ricky Hatton fight. Yeah, remember how that went?

Sorry, that’s actually when Hatton got knocked out by Mayweather, but you get the idea. We got what? Five minutes of boxing? I would’ve asked for my nickel back, but I watched it at a friend’s house. For those who did throw down the money, blame Hatton. Anyway, my FCBD was spent doing the most non-comic book things ever, but I still got my books. Be friends with your comic book guy, kids.

(***1/2)

Atomic Robo: I’ve heard that this was good, and it is. The nice, clean art and sharp writing is impressive. It left me wanting more. Sadly, even though it’s huge on the cover, this story wasn’t the longest in the issue.

Drone: This was the longest story. I’m a bit underwhelmed. Average art and writing, with a ton of words isn’t the best sales pitch. It’s a bit of an interesting concept, though.

We Kill Monsters: I don’t know what to think of this. It just didn’t really hook me at all. It’s not bad.

(***1/2)

Because I like complaining about Bendis:

For a book with both New and Dark Avengers, this isn’t in continuity, is it?

This book has way too many words for kids and new readers.

Why is this book rated teen? Why not write for kids, Bendis? Why the swears?

Why does Spider-Man mention global warming? It’s not even a joke. It’ll just offend adults and confuse the kids.

This book was so damn wordy, and yet it still didn’t introduce all the characters.

Other than all that:It’s pretty good. I mean, it’s Jim Cheung drawing 24 pages of Avengers action. Throw in Thor, and you actually have a memorable FCBD comic. Oh, and we get more pages in this issue than we do in a four-dollar Avengers comic. And why is this book at reduced-size? Every publisher, large and small, is printing normal size, but Marvel? Tiny comics! Boo!

(****)

Some publishers, even the tiny ones, will put out an issue #0 for three bucks, but DC? They put out the #0 of their big, new event for free. Way to go DC! Wednesday Comics, three-dollar comics, and now this? Is anyone still reading Marvel? As for the actual issue, I would have liked to get a good look at all of the corps. We do get that, in a way, but those pages have been online for weeks. I even posted them. What we do get, is a nice conversation between Hal and Barry, an exploration of some of DC’s dead characters, and the Black Lantern Oath. Throw in some sweet Ivan Reis art, and you’ve got an awesome package. Oh, and for those who have been noticing my bitching about Aquaman being brought back in Final Crisis, that’s actually addressed in this issue. Apparently, those were just rumors. BUT I SAW HIM WITH MY OWN EYES! Oh well, way to screw with Morrison’s vision, DiDio.

(**)

“The Simpsons” is my favorite show. Having said that, I don’t think I really laughed once while reading this. That’s bad. The comic is free, features nice art, and may entertain children. That’s good.

(***1/2)

Shazam: This was three pages! I heard this was good, but three pages! Boo!

Brave and the Bold: Entertaining, adequate art, and the kids are the hero of the story, that’s awesome. Also, just like the cartoon, it features a relatively unknown villain, the Thinker. Although, I think Batman and Blue Beetle kill him in this story. What’s up with that?

Tiny Titans: I’ve read this comic before and it’s very fun. I dig the art, too. This one? Not so much. It’s still awesome, and if any of you have kids, this is a good comic.

(**)

I have a friend who absolutely adores this book. Well, he used to. Now, even he isn’t reading it anymore. I’ve tried to get into it. I like the art and some of the pop culture references are funny, but it’s kind of boring. It’s lost its spark.

(***)

If you like Wolverine: First Class, this is right up your alley. It’s Fred Van Lente being Fred Van Lente. It also has some pretty art. I find Wolverine: First Class to be forgettable and unnecessary, so this isn’t my thing, but I think a lot of kids and adults will have a blast.

For more comic goodness, go here.

Desiato Reviews Some Indies

Antoine Sharpe: The Atheist #1 [Desperado] (****)

There are a couple reasons why I picked this book up. I keep hearing about this Phil Hester guy and how he’s awesome and everybody loves him, and I required empirical evidence. The book was also featured as a Indie Challenge on Comic Geek Speak (less than two weeks to the Super Show!). This, however, did not stop me from completely forgetting to buy via DCBS, so I made sure to pick it up at the store when I went to get Secret Invasion. Good book. It’s not the first book to feature the character (there was a four issue mini preceding it simply called “The Atheist,” but they ended up changing the name due to the general fervor and malcontent surrounding a word like “atheist”), but I didn’t feel lost at all in discovering who this titular character is. There’s a pretty simple and effective premise as work here. Antoine Sharpe is basically a skeptical detective that is called upon to investigate paranormal cases outside of the realm of standard private investigation work. He’s brought in to cut through the mumbo jumbo and see what’s actually going on here. This story begins with Mr. Sharpe being sent to a mountain town where wives have a tendency to disappear. We don’t get much of the mystery here yet as things are still being set up, but it’s a pure concept and has been executed well so far.

Atomic Robo: Dogs of War #1 [Red 5] (****)

Atomic Robo is a wisecracking robot that was built by Nikola Tesla. He was the star of an awesome five issue miniseries that I read earlier this year that was tons of fun and a sort of light, cheery throwback to the atomic age. I’ve been a fan of the sort of 1950’s retro cold war chic since I played Fallout oh so many years ago, and that first mini had a very similar feel. This one is set in World War Two, so it has a decidedly different aesthetic to it (which is not a bad thing, despite my preference toward the 50’s), but that doesn’t change the series overall to the point of making it read any differently. This issue reads fast, as Robo is parachuting in behind enemy lines to take out some German “laufpanzers” (walking tanks. Five years of German pays off!) that were made partially off the specs that created Robo himself. There are a lot of sparse and wordless panels, and the issue is mostly action, which is why I didn’t like it as much as some of the issues from the first mini, but there’s also an amusing little four page backup that retains that silly vibe. It’s a very good book and I would recommend picking it up, but I would definitely start with the first mini, which’ll be out in trade soon if it’s not on the shelves already.

Angel: After the Fall #11 [IDW] (*1/2)

Comic fans are often referred to as masochistic. We buy books we hate because we have a love for the characters or don’t want to interrupt the run (collector’s mentality). I’m in the camp of the former when it comes to Angel After the Fall. I love the characters, and I’m legitimately intrigued by the overall storyline and where the story is headed, but the writing is SO BAD and the art is SO BAD that the book is just painful to read. The art is completely inconsistent and rushed, and there are a couple instances of Lynch trying to crowbar in some pop culture referency Whedonisms that ring completely false. But the saddest thing about all of this is the fact that I’m probably going to keep buying the thing. And that really is masochism in action. Because they’re doing some cool things in the overall scheme. But that doesn’t stop the individual pieces of the story from being just awful and sad.

Spike: After the Fall #2 [IDW] (***)

Well this one actually got better. Who knew? It’s still not great, but it’s a lot better than its bigger brother right now. We continue to follow Spike as he moves toward the status quo that was set up early in Angel: After the Fall, and this issue specifically deals with Spike and Illyria coming face to face with the Lord of Beverly Hills, who’s not a nice customer. The art is still muddled, but the writing is a lot more bearable than what Lynch is doing on Angel. This book is showing signs of life, and it’s enough for me to buy into the next two issues.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #24: The Independent Edition!

Atomic Robo: Free Comic Book Day Edition (***1/2)

I was really surprised how much I liked this book. Why? The first few pages didn’t really hook me. It reminded me too much of Hellboy or the early issues of Savage Dragon, you know, before Erik Larsen completely lost his shit and just started aping the Lee/Kirby style down to the chromosomal pairs. Anyway, once I got to the part where Robo fights the Soviet robots, the editor’s note gag hooked me. And then I just loved the full page with the evil scientist guy delivering all the expository goodness. Also, I don’t comment on this nearly enough (save for when it’s terrible), but the art was really good. Overall, I like Mr. Robo a lot, but I don’t know if I like him enough to pick up the first trade and subscribe to the monthly. Question: was this a brand new story or a reprint? Hmm, the more I reflect on this book, the more interested I am in picking up the first trade. Has anyone read it? Is it worth the trouble?

Black Summer #6 (****)

The plot picked back up in this issue, which was nice since the action didn’t let up either. Super looking forward to the end of this re-imagining of that old JLA one-shot, Superpower. Heh, anyone else remember that one?

Dan Dare #6 (*****)

Dan Dare is the action hero we didn’t know we were missing. He’s the kind of guy we used to look up to. The guy we used to want to be, when it was okay for guys to be macho, manly and pompous. Before women’s lib and emasculation of the rougher sex in the late 90’s and the 21st century. There’s nothing emo about him. Nothing feminine. Dan Dare tells you like it is, simplifies the issues and then takes action. Dan Dare also never lies. He is a man of his word, but also a man of action. A man of honor. I know I keep saying it, but that’s not going to stop me from saying it again. I love this book. Why aren’t you reading it? This week’s pull list had this book marked as #6 (of 7)… when did this become a mini-series? Man, this makes The Bill a very sad panda.

Number of the Beast #3 (***1/2)

Slow to start, but boy is it picking up steam. To me, this book feels like COIE for the Wildstorm Universe. Everything I’ve been hoping for in regards to The High paid off in this issue. Is Beatty going to reference the “Change or Die” arc from the Ellis run on Stormwatch? Yes. Oh, hell yes. And now it’s all got me thinking, is The High’s escape from the “simulated world” that all the Golden Age heroes are stuck in the catalyst for Armageddon? If yes, then awesome! The pacing, in my eyes, has totally redeemed itself. Hopefully, it’s the kind of trick Morrison can pull off with Final Crisis. I’d say the same for Bendis on Secret Invasion, but I don’t hold the man’s writing ability in as high regard as Morrison’s. I’m starting to get the sneaking suspicion that by the end of the year, this sleeper summer event will outdo both Final Crisis and Secret Invasion in terms of storytelling. And really, I’m okay with that.

Quick Hits:
Conan #50 (**1/2): Great series that ended on a very low note. Series really should have ended when Busiek left the book. Sad face.
Midnighter #19 (**): I don’t know what happened, but I’m no longer enjoying this book.
Project Superpowers #3 (*): Issue 3 was nigh on unreadable. I feel like the story isn’t really going to start until Kruger and Ross introduce the entire cast of characters… a cast that grows by about 3-6 new superheroes per issue, all from the Golden Age and all randoms that I’ve never heard of before. At this rate, I don’t think 12 issues is gonna be enough. UGH.
Young Liars #3 (*****): WOW. Seriously, WOW. This fucker gets better and better every month! What a fucking reveal! Holy shit! I was all set to like Danny and now… FUCK!!!