Free Comic Book Day has come and gone. Those who sought him
found their Stanlee Claus with Ultimate X-Men #1. All
that's left for the rest of us is to clean up the extra paper
and make sure that the tree gets put out on the curb by trash
day. And oh, yes, we're hoping that if we're real good, Free
Comic Book Day will come around again next year.
of this year? Was it everything that retailers could have
hoped? According to our informal survey of one shop, yes.
People who normally don't set foot in comic shops did this
weekend, and more importantly, actually bought stuff.
we just picked up the free swag. And here's a brief rundown
on what we could find:
writer: Angelo DeCesare
artists: Jeff Shultz and Al Milgrom
Marvel editor Al Milgrom inked this thing? Wow, he's more
versatile than I could have ever thought. It's not the inking
that surprises me; it's the smoothness with which he has switched
over to the Archie "House Style."
using that phrase, most of you already have a picture in your
mind. Not just of the art, but how the story goes as well.
Yes, Archie comics tend to follow a template, one that keeps
on working for them.
Comic Book Day, however, the powers that be at Archie Comics
approved a slightly post-modern deconstructionist approach.
In "The Kid Who Wrecked Riverdale," we get an explanation
as to just why these comics follow a pattern, and a defense
of why it's necessary.
Josh loves him some Archie comics, to the point that the characters
seem like real people to him. Though his older sister Ashley
mocks him for it, it's nicely pointed out that many such critics
have their own little obsessions. In Ashley's case, it's soap
rate, Josh wishes himself into Riverdale so that he can straighten
things out for all the characters; their own foibles keep
getting them into the same troubles over and over.
the latest issue of Archie to back him up, Josh explains
to Mr. Lodge how Reggie's scheming keeps making Archie look
bad to him. When he finds Reggie, Josh persuades him to try
not being a jerk. Betty and Veronica learn to share, as Archie
can never really choose between them. And Jughead needs to
stop being such a glutton.
in the "real" world, though, Josh has ruined everything. Even
though the characters now get along well, it makes for pretty
boring comics. And so these six characters in search of a
conflict have to be set back on their self-destructive paths.
a little heady for the younger readers (or their parents)
likely to have picked this book up, but luckily, it's still
true to Archie. Brightly colored, simply but appealingly drawn,
and eventually, Archie pulls one of his famous bone-headed
stunts. Any Archie story that ends with steam coming out of
Mr. Lodge's ears is a good one.
a reason the Archie line remains strong, and it's not just
grocery store distribution.
writers: Ty Templeton and Dan Slott
artists: Rick Burchett, Templeton, and Terry Beatty
this book is the same as was released last Wednesday to shops.
The house ads have been shifted around to put more emphasis
on getting kids to maybe buy some other DC books, but for
the real meat, you may be sorry you paid $2.25 on Wednesday.
of course, a pretty good book. DC would not squander the day
on a gratis issue of Brother Power, The Geek.
Instead, we get two good character-defining stories that also
establish the status quo in this quasi-animated version of
"No Asylum," takes the reader on a tour of most of Batman's
villains, as he must break into Arkham to prevent a terrorist
attack on one of the inmates. It seems that with The Penguin
as Mayor of Gotham City (?), Batman is no longer treated with
the same unofficial police respect as we might have thought.
he's still Batman, so there's really not much of a problem.
But new readers will get a good sense of who's who, old readers
get a good story by the underrated Templeton, and young readers
will find this book much more accessible than the regular
line. (The Joker here is still dangerous, but in a kid friendly
way, and not nearly as disturbing as the versions on recent
covers by Jim Lee and Tim Sale.)
set up an overall story arc, but stands on its own as a story.
Hopefully, readers will be hooked but satisfied in one. How
come the regular books can't do that anymore?
short back-up, obscure villain The Cavalier tries to steal
the spotlight from Batman, and his tale ties in to Bruce Wayne's
motivations and inspirations. Templeton takes over the penciling
on this one, and under Beatty's overall inking, the book has
a really smooth look.
have children who like Batman, find a store that still has
copies of this. Heck, pay the $2.25. You won't be sorry. It's
better for them than a video game.
story and art: Carl Barks
the return of Disney to comics, Diamond (under the "Gemstone
Publishing" imprint) reprints the most valuable of Donald
Duck comics. Not only has the property been gone from comic
shops for too long, it's clear that Disney has been sorely
to our man Steve at our shop Brian's Books (in Santa Clara,
California), the book that "sold out" the fastest and with
the most demand afterward was this one. Clearly, parents and
real comics lovers remember this one fondly, and with good
transformed the funny animals of Disney's stable into characters
capable of stories with a sense of adventure to them. (Conversely,
after thirty years or so Disney finally got the hint and used
his work for the show "Duck Tales.")
time of this tale, "Maharajah Donald," not everything was
in place. Donald and his nephews live in Burbank (probably
near the Disney studios), not yet Duckburg. There's not as
much sense of the community. However, Barks was already a
stands as classic, and it's obvious why. Though a little on
the silly side (it's talking ducks, after all), the story
has clever twists and turns, drawn with an eye for detail.
And though the story takes place in something like India,
at a time when his readers might have been less than enlightened
about it, Barks treats the foreign culture with respect.
the descriptions of upcoming books in the house ads, I fear
that Gemstone Publishing might just price themselves right
back out of the market. Real Disney collectors already have
a lot of their back catalogue of stories, and new readers
may just pick the books up sporadically.
I really miss Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, and
am glad to have it back for as long as it lasts.
writers: David Michelinie and Bob Layton
artists: Ron Lim and Layton
to give Future Comics credit for daring. In an era with a
virtual monopoly on comic distribution (see Diamond, above),
the veterans at Future are trying to do it all themselves.
It's bold; not even CrossGen has had the guts to circumvent
Diamond. But as a result, this is the first time I've even
seen a copy of one of their books.
involved in the project has top-notch credentials, and the
book proved enjoyable but not particularly memorable. Metallix
bears superficial resemblance to Iron Man, a book which Layton
made his mark on at Marvel a couple of decades ago.
the armor, a liquid metal polymer that can shift from host
to host, is in the possession of a corporate team. Each member
has different strengths, and Michelinie shows off their advantages
in a combat situation.
good introduction to the characters and the concept, but even
with the appearance of a clear arch-enemy, it's not really
enough to hook. While well-done, Metallix just isn't
gives a few quick glimpses at their other titles, too, and
a couple look interesting. But as I look at the overall line,
I can't shake this voice in my head whispering, "remember
Valiant?" It's the Ghost of Comics Past, reminding me that
I can't afford to buy comics I just don't really care about.
if I can't even find them at my local store, the point is
this book, Dark Horse Comics launches a whole new line of
science-fiction oriented comics featuring (hopefully) original
concepts. As an anthology book, this is pretty good. It remains
to be seen if any of the features here will be strong enough
to hold their own in a fiercely competitive market.
feature, Syn, is a little difficult to follow, but
worth the effort. Syn herself "lives" in a mechanoid society
long after humans have gone. The ruling class of machinery
has set up a Catch-22: they must strive to know humans, but
if any intelligence actually starts emulating the vanished
species, it is to be deactivated. Violently, and with extreme
of such machines, Syn finds herself becoming what she is sworn
to destroy. It's a tight story by Keith Giffen, Greg Titus
and Julian Washburn, setting up a larger storyline without
being an annoying cliffhanger.
stories accomplish the same thing, a credit to Dark Horse
MAX editor Stuart Moore and artist Jerome Opena contribute
the character Lone, a gunfighter stuck in a post-apocalyptic
world of mutants, madmen and machines. Opena has settled on
an interesting character design, and has a gritty style that
stands out when bookended by the other two manga-esque features.
out the book is Go Boy 7 by Tom Peyer, Jon Sommariva and Pierre-Andre
Dery. It's the most lightweight of the stories, and though
it acts like the middle of an ongoing series, Peyer gives
you everything you need to know to enjoy it. Of the three
tales in Rocket Comics, it's the most mainstream, with
a vague resemblance to the recently-deceased Superboy
by way of Tokyo. Though fun, Go Boy 7 seems most likely to
get lost in the shuffle.
it is. If I missed something that you picked up and think was
worth a look, let me know. (Already I regret missing Slave Labor
Stories - hey, guys, are you reading this, and can I come by
and get one?)
or not the whole shebang has the impact the industry hopes,
only time will tell.