Saturday, May 12, 2012

Free Comic Day

I'm running a week late here, but let's take a look back at a half-dozen of the Free Comic Book Day offerings (and as always, feel free to send along your own comments about any of them that you picked up - you can send a comment at the bottom of this post or email it to the address over on the right side of the page).

The Avengers

First up, riding the wave of the incredibly successful movie, we have The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which is slightly disappointing because it's a reprint of a recent "Point-one" issue.

But it's only slightly so, because it features a sharp story (and the usual sizzling dialogue) by Brian Bendis and fantastic art by Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary.

It's a battle of brains with some nifty twists and turns along the way, and well worth tracking down.

Grade: A-

DC: The New 52

The good thing about this issue is that it features a new Justice League story.

The bad thing is that I'm not crazy about the offhanded way the Geoff Johns story creates (or recreates) two beloved DC heroes using crass origin trickery. I prefer both as either a total mystery or more down-to-Earth (respectively).

But the story does give us some background on the mysterious Pandora and sets up the next big event for DC, the Trinity War.

By the way, I almost missed the ending of the original story - it's "hidden" in the gatefold poster at the center of the issue.

Grade: A-

Bongo Comics Free-for-All

Bongo consistently puts out some of the funniest comics around, and this issue is a good sampler.

It includes a saga of the Simpsons and the Bear Patrol, as Homer and his fellow hunters are forced to deal with bears who are targeting celebrities.

There's also a short biographical story by Sergio Aragones about a get-rich-quick scheme he devised as a child.

As if those stories weren't enough, flip the book over for a short story starring Spongebob Squarepants.

Fun stuff!

Grade: B+

Serenity / Star Wars

Now here's a book that should warm the heart of any geek (like me, for example).

It's a flip book that divides the issue between two great science fiction / science fantasy franchises.

One is an adventure with the cast of Serenity. This story takes place after the film, which is certainly worth your time to track down after you've watched the Firefly TV series. It's a light bit of business, but the creative team has the "feel" of the series down.

The other half of the comic is a Star Wars adventure starring Han Solo and Chewbacca. Need I say more?

I didn't think so.

Grade: A-

Donald Duck Family Comics

As I've said before, I have a tough time passing up a Disney Duck comic (whether it stars Donald or Uncle Scrooge McDuck).

There are three stories in this issue, including some early efforts by the great Carl Barks (there's a reason why he was known as the "good duck artist"). You'll also find quite a few one-page gags.

All vastly entertaining, no matter how many times you've read them. And if you haven't read them, boy, are you missing out!

Grade: A

My Favorite Martian

Here's one I couldn't pass up because of my fondness for the original TV show, which I remember watching on our old black-and-white TV set.

It's all about a Martian - Uncle Martin - who is trapped on Earth. He hopes to repair his spaceship and return to Mars, but he never quite manages to succeed.

He's also in danger of being discovered, but manages to stay clear thanks to his Martian powers and the help of his human friend, Tim.

This issue is a reprint of an old Gold Key comic and is promoting a reprint volume of all the original comics.

Nice work from a more innocent time.

Grade: B+

Mouse Guard

This is the most impressive of the Free Comic Book Day offerings, if just because of the packaging.

This is a small hardback book, loaded with a number of previews for existing or upcoming books, including the Mouse Guard (natch), Labyrinth (based on the movie), Rust, which tells the story of a boy and a jet pack, The Dapper Men, who live in a world outside of time, and Cow Boy, the grim tale of a tiny cowpoke.

Lots of excellent work here, and the sampler does its job, because now I want to check out those other series.

Nicely done!

Grade: A-


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