Category Archives: Print

Free Comic Book Day 2014 Review Part 7

Ugh, I love these comics, I was just hoping to finish by now.

 

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar

Dark Horse Comics and Nickelodeon bring us Avatar.  I’m not all that familiar with the character.  The art carries the same level of stylization that I’ve come to expect from kid’s titles.  The story is where this book really shines.  Comics fandom was once dominated by men.  As the demographic shifts and the audience for comics grows, the old-style audience has caused unnecessary growing pains.  This story brilliantly illustrates how the bullied old guard has become the bully and how to deal with it.

The itty bitty Hellboy short seems to ape what I’ve seen from DC kid’s offerings.  Funny though.

Not sure I get Juice Squeezers, but it was a laugh.

Overall, recommend.

 

Raising a Reader!

Reader

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund threw in Raising a Reader! : How Comics & Graphic Novels Can Help Your Kids Love To Read!  This is one for the parents.  It begins with an explanation of what comics can give to kids.  The entire work is short and surprisingly in-depth for such brief sections.  It’s mostly a text piece, with scattered illustration.  I’d have preferred to see it done as a comic itself.  The next section deals with how to navigate a comics page.  For those few who don’t find comics reading instinctive, it explains the basics quite clearly.  Then we are given information on how to use comics in solo reading, reading aloud, as book club selections, and as a multi-literacy dialogue.  In Graphic Novels and Learning, we see how they can be incorporated into learning curriculum.  I wouldn’t use how they easily answer Common Core mandates as a shining example of their educational potential, but my misgivings with Common Core are for another post.  There is not only info for parents, but teachers as well.

Recommend!

 

Hello Kitty and Friends

HelloKitty

I’ve heard of Sanrio and their flagship character, Hello Kitty.  I’ve never heard of Perfect Square, the publisher.  Flight is a nice testament to imagination as Hello Kitty tries to alleviate rainy day boredom.  The Amazing journey is a preschool equivalent to The Magic School Bus exploration of the digestive system.  Not recommended for education, just entertainment.  The remaining Hello Kitty stories are drivel.  Seriously, not worth the read.  The Bravest Warriors art included seem to be a pair of Waldo-esque pages requiring foreknowledge of the characters.  Which I lack.

Recommend?  Only if you’re under 5.

 

Bongo Comics Free-For-All 2014

Bongo

I’m not a Simpsons fan, yet the Bongo Free-For-All never fails to entertain.  Bongo Comics includes the usual assortment of fake ads for parody purposes.  Its like Simpsons meets Wacky Packs.

We start with a Simpsons story titled With Great Power… (apparently Bongo likes giving Marvel approval).  Bart and Milhouse are reading comics in a treehouse.  The art is better than the series, but that doesn’t take much.  The boys try out variations on the well known origin stories in an attempt to gain superpowers.  Milhouse, as always, get the short end of the shtick.  The moral is, kids have superpowers when compared to adults.

Agent Vs Agent is very meta.  They parody a satire magazine that used to parody itself.  Feel free to pause as you process that.

Another Simpsons short is Mr. Burns to the Rescue.  Smithers is missing and Mr.  Burns must search for him through the untold bowels of Burns Manor.  As we see, I’m not the only one to use “kerfluffle”.

Krustyburger Konfidential actually has worse art than the show ever did!  How?!

Then we end on Synchronicity For Two.  An elegant title.  I always enjoy their riffs on Dr. Strange.  I’m surprised that there were no Futurama shorts this year.  Ah, well.

Recommend.

 

Captain Comic Book

CaptainComicBook

Holy sequential images, Captain Comic Book!  This one is brought to us by Operation Comic Book.

We get the obligatory superpowered origin story of a guy who can call on any ability of any comic hero.  A banker is put in charge of handling the estate sale of a Master Sorcerer.  Among the unearthly trinkets is a box of comics.  The banker is an avid comics reader, and since his boss doesn’t find the comics to be worth selling, he gets to take the books home with him.  Turns out, they are enchanted.  As he reads through the box, he gains the power of each hero.  As the book was sponsored by a Rotary Club, the Four-Way test is outlined.

Recommended.

 

Buck Rogers

BuckRogers

Hp put up a book of reprints featuring the newspaper strips of Buck Rogers.  Fitting tribute to the origins of comic books and graphic novels.  There are some sample pages in the back of a new upcoming Buck Rogers line.

Recommend?  Meh.

 

I hope to wrap up soon.

Free Comic Book Day 2014 Review Part 6

I think I only have three of these left after this…

DonaldDuckUncleScroogeFantagraphics offered Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: A Matter of Some Gravity.

I didn’t notice the variant cover gimmick until I got home and I was separating the kid’s comics.  My son had one version and my daughter had the other.  A clever play on the title.  Inside is a wonderful reprint (as that’s all Fantagrphics has the rights to with Disney) of a story featuring Magica De Spell.  The art can get a little disorienting given the plot device, but it works well.  It’s not a UFO, it is a JPDC!  I’m not familiar with the Gladstone character, put he does prove to be funny.

Recommended.

ValiantValiant also has Valiant Universe: Handbook 2014.  It’s not a comic, but it is a handy guide to all of their titles.

Recommended.

VWarsNow for IDW’s VWars.  Basically, an epidemic creates vampires.  Chaos ensues.  Standard art.  The story is good.  It is narrated by a folklore specialist cum presidential advisor.  He recounts the start of the war.  Tragic end.  Very graphic on the violence.  There is an outbreak map included as well as background files.

A recommended antidote to Twilight poisoning.

entorpyEpicenter Comics also had Entropy.  The cover is certainly interesting. Interior depicts a dystopian future of divided social class and banned books.  They also included the short, Vegetable.  Nasty piece of work a la Twilight Zone.  This brings us to Ciosses.  The futility of vengeance is beautifully told in this tale of lost love.

Recommended.

SherwoodI’ve never heard of 12- Gauge before.  So let’s look at Sherwood, Texas.  The cover art is just redundant.  The map on the inside cover tells me that this is Robin Hood retold in the present American West.  I prove to be right.  The whole thing is set as a war between biker gangs.  I’ve heard of the Boondock Saints, but I’ve never seen or read any of it.  Not a fan.

Unsure of recommendation.

TerraFormersKillViz Media/Haika Soru presents All You Need Is Kill. On the other side is Terra Formers by Viz Media/SIG.  All You Need Is Kill has impressive artwork.  Not enough impression of the ongoing story to want to pick it up.  Terra Formers reads in the traditional manga manner, that is opposite page order from western comics.  Very Japanese.  Not my cup of tea.

Not so recommended.

 

More soon…

Free Comic Book Day Review Part 5

And on and on we go…

kaboom

Next we have the kaboom! Summer Blast!  This little anthology has quite a bit packed in.

The first sample is Herobear and the Kid,  It starts off with a rather weighty philosophical commentary on time.  Black and white artwork with no color punctuation save the logo in the upper-left corner.  As the observations continue onto the next page, we are introduced to the titular characters.  I particularly like how the Herobear’s red cape not only provides a relief of color to the monochrome work, but how it also breaks panel to weave in and out.  It forms a frame about the page.  I wish there was a little more like it on the subsequent pages.  The grey is more than a little dull.  Villains, comical henchmen, heroes, the imagination of a child, and oh, did I mention that the kid is Santa’s grandson?

Recommended for your inner child.

Then kaboom! gives us an Adventure Time short, Sphagnum Shmagnum.  I confess, I don’t get the appeal of Adventure Time.  Apparently it’s popular.  The art is terrible, the puns are worse, and the story is just boring.  Adventure my foot.

Not recommended unless you already enjoy Adventure Time.

I have never heard of Steven Universe before.  Art is cartooning and well done.  Not much story, but enough to give the reader a sense of Steven’s world.

The Amazing World of Gumball presents The Pants.  Another example of good cartooning.  A cat and a fish with legs are best friends.  Gumball (the cat), gives his friend the gift of pants.  The fish can’t seem to wear them.  The main lesson seems to be that you don’t need pants if you have shoes.  Do not attempt.

Uncle Grandpa?  There’s a disturbing title.  Better than “I Am My Own Grandpa”, but not by much.  Bad art with not much story.

The Regular Show presents D-20 Disaster.  For those not in the know, a D-20 is a 20-sided die.  To idiots playing around with a magic die, what else is there to say?

Peanuts brings a classic offering.  I don’t know how I feel about this.  Shortly before his death, Peanuts creator Charles Shultz published as a strip a letter detailing the end of Peanuts.  Now kaboom! has an ongoing series, not of reprints, but of new stories in his style.  At least they are remaining true to his original work, if not a little light on the occasional theology.

Right off the bat, I don’t like the Garfield short.  I love Garfield, but that classic character portrayed in that garish art style is an assault on the eyes.  Garfield stealing Nermal’s thunder is an interesting twist.

Overall, recommended on Herobear alone.

Jellaby

Capstone offers The Adventures of Jellaby.  Monochrome, yet interesting.  We get to see how Jellaby was found.  Thenw e come to full color stories.  Never play tug-of-war with a dragon.  To be honest, we’ve all dealt with knots and tangles like that.  Perfectly found humor in an everyday problem.  Pocky, I’ve had it and I still don’t understand the appeal.

Recommended.

 RocketRaccoon

Of course Marvel had to give us Rocket Raccoon!  The best C-list character to ever be created from Beatle’s lyrics.  DC, “The world is not ready for a Wonder Woman movie.”  Marvel, Here’s a talking raccoon!”  The riff on the Star Wars opening scroll is a nice touch.  I love the art.  Also, the line, “…So don’t try anything smart.” “I never do.” , that’s one of my favorite gags.  He’s after what turns out to be a self-rescuing princess.  Her competence is a nice strak contrast to Rocket’s…lack thereof.  Action and humor.  What’s not to love?

Marvel also threw in a little friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in space.  I almost wonder if Deadpool wrote this one.  Way more tongue-in-cheek than normal for Spidey, not that it’s a bad thing.  Not to mention “Deadly Ray Gun of Death!”.  Yeah, definitely something Deapool would write.  And the five pages reference breaks the oh so fragile fourth wall.

Recommended.

Magi

Rise of the Magi comes to us from Image Comics AND Top Cow Productions.  They slipped in a Star Wars reference on page one.  And a walnut “shell phone”.  The otherwise serious tone is punctuated by small bits of humor.  Essentially the trespasses of a bored child unearth world -threatening danger.  There’s also a sketch gallery in the back.

Recommended.  Just don’t lick the frog.

StreetFighter

Udon brings us Street Fighter.  Oversized, high energy cover, and standard interior art.  Different shorts within provide background on several characters.  The art improves with each short.

Recommended to existing Capcom fans.

TeenTitans

My beloved DC brought Teen Titans GO! to FCBD.  Not one of their better choices.  Atrocious art.  Good humor.  Not my speed.

Recommended for kids.

 

Yet more next time.

Free Comic Book Day Review Part 4

As we left our last review…

IDW     IDW brought Transformers vs G.I. Joe to the party with retro styled artwork inside and out. It’s like I’m digging through my older cousin’s box of comics again. No substance.
Recommended only for nostalgia’s sake.

Spongebob

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? United Plankton Picture’s Spongebob Freestyle Funnies 2014.
Nothing to say about the art, it matches the show. There are a couple of Spongebob shorts and a Mermaid Man. The second Spongebob short gets a little disturbing. They’re getting supplies to make comics. Patrick pops out of the shower saying “I’ve got the ink!”. Still in the shower is a shuddering Squidward. I really don’t want to know about how he obtained that ink. Blegh!
Recommended only for the first Spongebob short and the Mermaid Man.

BlackSky     Dark Horse put Project Black Sky on the table. It seems to be a throwback to early capes and crimefighters, complete with gorillas. Yes, gorillas. Who talk in sign language. Yeah.
Anywho, it gives a whole Captain America vibe with the whole time-lost hero from America’s greatest generation thing.
Recommended.

Guardians     Of course, Marvel brings us Guardians of the Galaxy. True believers rejoice! It’s got the same solid story and art we’ve come to expect from Marvel. Oh, my beloved DC, why can’t you get your act together?
We get to see Tony Stark explain to Corporal Thompson just who the Guardians are. Good intro book. Great for anyone who saw the movie trailer and went, “What the-?”. And Agent Venom joins the Guardians to represent Earth. Not the best choice Stark has made. And an ad for the wedding of Deadpool. My, my. DC’s Harley Quinn will be so disappointed.
Recommended.

To be continued…

 

Free Comic Book Day 2014 Review Part 3

     More reviews! Let the goodies commence!Sonic     Archie Comics also released a FlipSider of Megaman X/Sonic the Hedgehog. On the Sonic side, we are given short stories to catch old readers up to speed and lay down backstory on returning charcters for the benefit of newer readers. It’s good to see fan-favorite Sally return to the Sonic books. Also, a complete timeline is provided.
On the Megaman X side we are introduced to X, and the world 100 years after the events of the regular Megaman comics. It lays a solid foudation for the reader to drop in to the series. Also, as with Sonic, we are given a complete timeline.
Recommended, especially for classic gamers.

Tick      Spoon! New England Comics Press presents the Tick!
The Tick is well…the Tick. Always has been, always will be. His zany adventures march on in this one-shot with bonus short. Not much else to say.
Recommended? Of course.Red      Red Giant had four FlipSider issue #0s. I got them all. The first up is Tesla: The Future is Mine/Wayward Sons.
On the Tesla side, we open with a conversation between Nikola Tesla and Mark Twain that reveals the backstory of Mathilde   Poincare. The art befits the tone of the story. Very inventive action in historic trappings.
Wayward Sons brings us in ground-level to a supernatural action ride where we discover the story with the two principal characters. I’m interested.
Side note, Red Giant advertised free weekly comics in the back of Tesla. I will have to look into that.
Next up is The First Daughter/Magika. In The First Daughter, we are given an interesting notion of a tatical team made up of cryogenically preserved First Children who were omitted from history to save the world from extraterrestrial threat. I enjoyed it.
Magika enjoys a more painterly style and an imaginative fantasy world. I think my kids will enjoy reading this one with me. Also, magical donkeys are as stubborn as regular ones. Who knew? The characters are well-crafted.
More side notes, all of the Red Giant books claim Giant-Size Adventure, Giant-Size Thrills, Giant-Size Fantasy, or Giant-Size Action, yet they are smaller than standard format.
Pandora’s Blogs/Duel Identity begins on the Pandora sides with a slice of life from the daily world of Pandora Sargent. Things get a little strange as we seenthe creation of a gargoyle from a patient with a rare problem.
Duel IdentityIdentity occurs within a generic super-hero universe, with a dark undercurrent. The main character is a public face superheroine by day, hired assassin by night. Not a twist I saw coming.
This brings us to Darchon/Shadow Children. Darchon’s cover reminds me of the old pulps. Makes sense, the narrative character sees monsters and heroes from old pulps. I’d like to see how the stories are handled sans narrator.
Shadow Children has a Green Goblin knockoff on the cover. It start as an idyllic fantsy world inhabited by children, but it gets dark fast.
Overall, I recommend the lot.

Part four is coming soon!

 

Free Comic Book Day 2014 Review Part 2

   Time for part 2.  Quite a haul this year.
FarFromWonder    I have read and enjoyed The Looking Glass Wars and Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor (still need to read Archenemy).  As such, I was excited to pick up Far From Wonder Volume One: Hatter M.
The cover art got my hopes up.  Too bad the interior art doesn’t match.  I know some people dig the more unrefined “sketchy” style.  I am not one of them.  This is one of those cases where the good story survives bad art.
The story parallels the events of The Looking Glass Wars as it follows Hatter M on his search through our world for the missing princess Alyss.  Lots of action.
Recommended as a supplement to The Looking Glass Wars.
PowerRangers     Papercutz came to the table with the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.
Nothing special about the art.  Nothing bad either.  Story is a bit cheesy, but so were the original episodes.
I don’t remember Billy building a “rad bug” in the series, but he might have.  In any case, thebteam transports a captured Rita Repulsa to a remote location to be beamed into deep space.  Lord Zedd zaps the aforementioned “rad bug”, turning it into one of his monsters.  The team defeats it.  Zedd makes it grow to Godzilla proportions.  The team forms a Megazord and defeats it again. The end. Pretty much the same story as any Power Rangers episode ever.
Recommended for nostalgia, or for current children.
MagicWind     I have never heard of Magic Wind, but the cover is promising.
Interior art is detailed, but no shading.  Very old school.  Reminiscent of the pre-comics code westerns.  Interesting, as the publisher, Epicenter Comics is going by the same initials as a much beloved and defunct publisher from those days.  An homage, perhaps?  More of a monster story than a western.  It’s good, but not for me.
Recommended for fans of classic monster comics.
Smurfs     Papercutz also did their usual Smurfs book.  Plenty of trivia for Smurfs fans.  Features is a reprint of a story by the creator of the Smurfs, Peyo.
The next story is an Annoying Orange one.  I hate that meme.  The comics aren’t much better.
Ariol comes next.  The story is ok.  But I’ll give it a meh.
The First Dinosaurs concludes the book.  I got bored.
Recommended only on account of Smurfs.
SkywardMidnightTiger     Let’s hope that Action Lab’s Skyward/Midnight Tiger is better than their Zombie Tramp.  Can’t be much worse.
Art of Skyward is good.  The front page spread succeeds in grabbing attention. Story is good, leaves the reader wanting the next issue.  The backstory features a Nordic tribe split into four and the passing of a torch.  Big improvement so far.
Midnight Tiger also shows promise.  Normal kid livelives in world saved over and over by heroes who have long since abandoned the streets.  Gets caught up as a bystander in a metahuman battle.  Life is saved by a doctor with a super alter-ego.  Gets powers.  Becomes a street-level hero to do what the other heroes won’t.  I like it.
Action Lab could’ve saved themselves a lot of ink and negetive reviews by just offeroffering this solid book.  I recommend it.
Gotta go vote, then come back and schedule more posts for the rest of the week.  New installment soon.

Free Comic Book Day 2014 Review Part One

    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.

ZombieTrampCover    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.)

AtomicRoboCover     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.

Definitely recommended.

ArchieDigestCover      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.

ArmorHuntersCover      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.

     Verdict: Recommend.

Th3rdWorld

     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.

FuturesEndCover

     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.