I had a blast at JC Comics and Cards for Free Comic Book Day. I regret that I am unable to review neither Steam Wars nor Heroclix, as they were unavailable there. I understand the reasons. The stores do bear the cost and WizKids asked too much of the stores. As it stands, I shall record my first impressions of each book that I received.
I’ll get the most dreaded one out of the way, Zombie Tramp by Action Lab. If I weren’t reviewing on a blog, I’d have skipped it. The cover features the titular rotting corpse, dressed in next to nothing, leaning on a headstone, reading a comic, drawn in a style that is somehow appears as if the artist was trying to make her adorable (they failed), and is that a heart-shaped hole in her cheek? Oh, and the cute, cuddly kitten advertising that the book features EHMM Theory doesn’t help matters. So much for first impressions. Let’s (ugh) crack it open…
Artwork improves inside. Layouts are uncluttered and easy to read with out seeming dull. Oh, apparently the title tramp can alter her appearance to seem, not dead. Simple, but solid backstory. Flashbacks are easy to discern from current events. Story is a nice, short sample that gives you a solid idea of what to expect from the series. Not one I’ll read, but a pleasant surprise to find that it surpassed the low expectations I had.
The artwork on the EHMM Theory feature is disappointing. The bionic kitty manning a Gatling gun mounted on the guy’s shoulder is kinda cool. Either cuss, or don’t. Black boxes are distracting. Please refer to Censorship and Gratuity. Especially when the monkey villain shows up. Seriously, monkey-clown penis and scrotum clear as day through his tights? Eww. Not a fan.
There is an unadvertised feature called Dry Spell. Artwork is better. Darker tone. Not enough to get an idea if I like the story or not. Preview fail.
Overall, I still recommend skip. (It is also the only time in my life I have handed my wife a comic and told her to recycle it.)
Now for a pleaser from previous years. Red 5 Comics’ Atomic Robo. Brodie Troll and Haunted are also advertised on the cover. Cover art is up to snuff, though I have never seen Atomic Robo wear a sweater vest when fighting monsters before. What is that thing he’s fighting anyway?
Inside, the cartoon art is good. Layouts seem static, but easy to read, uncluttered, and interesting enough. The story is a complete one-shot that gives the reader a clear idea of what to expect from future issues. Plenty of action and humor. Side note: I would love to see Red 5 and Dark Horse do an Atomic Robo/Hellboy crossover. Just sayin’. I like the kid with the weapons. Explosions solve a lot. Oh, and action geology is a thing now. And action mycology. You’ve been warned.
The Brodie Troll Short, Haunted Harvest, is crowded with speech bubbles. We do see a breakup of the static compositions, if only briefly. Imagine you had a troll with Oscar the Grouch’s disposition trying to be a fairy. Yeah, mind blown. Again, complete short story that gives an excellent perception of what the series is like.
Haunted is a more serious offering that stands in a sharp contrast to the previous stories. Far more detail in the artwork. Not much is given up about the story, but I am intrigued. It seems like something The Walking Dead fans might enjoy.
Archie Comics comes to the table with a new Archie Digest #1. With all of the funky things that have gone down with Archie over the years, the brought a relief. Many of the stories are classic Archie to the point that they may be reruns. You pretty much know what to expect from this one.
Recommended, but you really aren’t missing anything if you skip.
Valiant has a small cult following. That said, Armor Hunters is a decent intro to the Valiant Universe. Artwork and compositions are solid. You may be a little lost at first, but it looks like the reader gets brought up to speed along the way. Characters are compelling and energy woman with what looks like 3d glasses is a refreshingly original character design.
There’s a checklist and some interviews, followed by an X-O Manowar piece. It’s just one battle scene, but it tells you who the title character is and what he is about. Preview win.
Impressive double-page spread poster of the Valiant characters on center fold.
Until the Rai preview, the artwork has been pretty much standard fare. Rai, on the other hand, is incredibly detailed. Interestingly, the title character does not appear. The writer is trying to set up his world and how he is perceived in it. It does make me excited to review the Rai issue that I won through another event.
Finding Gossamyr is a FlipSider with Past the Last Mountain, offered by Th3rd World Studios. I love Th3rd world. They are home to the SuperFogeys, but that is a review for another time.
On the Finding Gossamyr side, we have Way of the Bladeslinger: Divided Sands. The artwork is not what I’m used to. Imagine the Disney style painted in great detail. It is certainly beautiful.
The story centers around the discontented farmboy apprentice who is unappreciative of his master’s experience. Not much to go on, but holds promise.
On the Past the Last Mountain side, we have what seems to be an intentionally sloppy drawing style. Like an adult aping a child’s work. Few details are presented, but curiosity becomes aroused.
We also have a short titled Prisoners. Only two pages, but it seems to connect to the previous story and leaves you wanting to know more. Preview done right.
I recommend it.
Then we have the DC Comics offering, The New 52: Future’s End #0, Special Edition. Batman Beyond fans, rejoice. We are given a bleak future where basically, Brother Eye destroys the DC Universe, and Terry McGuiness is sent into the past by Bruce Wayne to stop Brother Eye from being built. I love the fact that Bruce warns, “And Terry? Whatever you do, don’t contact me in the past. Because not only will I not believe your story… But I’ll stop you.” One problem for Terry, he wasn’t sent far enough back. Events are already in motion. Can he still stop Brother Eye?
I have to say, I’ve generally been disappointed in the New 52, and this is the exception to that rule. I want to read more.
Holy time crisis, Batman! I recommend!
Stay tuned for the next installment.