DC: THE NEW FRONTIER: This 2004 Darwyn Cooke mini-series treats DC comic of the 1950s as if they had occurred in a cohesive, interactive universe. The story stretches from the end of WWII to the beginning of the 1960s and is told mostly in three "widescreen" panels per page, as if it were Technicolor CinemaScope. This is actually my first time reading it in a single sitting. It is as good as I remember it.
THE ORIGINAL E-MAN #1: Reprints Charlton's E-Man #1-2.
Caught up on a couple of older things this weekend.
Shade, The Changing Girl Vol. 1: Earth Girl Made Easy was part of Gerard Way's Young Animal line at DC. I really enjoyed this, and thought it caught the look and feel of the Peter Milligan run on Shade, The Changing Man. I will definitely be reading the second collection, as well as Shade, The Changing Woman.
High Crimes was collected by Image in 2019 after first running in digital form. The Mount Everest setting was interesting, but the interweaving story lines (a disgraced Olympic athlete, her business partner, a disillusioned black ops agent, and the team who have come to retrieve his body from the summit) were sometimes hard to follow. Finished it out of pure stubbornness--I hate not finishing things--but it should have been shorter.
Did you know that the color of the logos on FCBD books has significance? I didn't until this year, when I learned that a red FCBD logo means "mature," green means "kids" and blue is in between (Teen/Teen+). I covered all the red books in my previous posts, and now I'm starting on blue:
TEX IN THE LAND OF THE SEMINOLES (Epicenter Comics): This is an excerpt from a European graphic novel, where "Tex" is on the run from some other cowboys in south Florida who think he's a traitor for some reason. I assume this is during the Wild West, given the European fixation on that period, and the attempts at Authentic Western Gibberish (tm). Tex & Co. do run into some Seminoles, as the title suggests.
The art is of the detailed Spanish school Americans got familiar with from Warren magazines, although it's straight pen-and-ink with no washes. It's really nice.
I can't say the same for the story, in which Tex refuses to kill the men chasing him, tends to shoot guns out of hands Kid Colt-style and even risks his life against crocodiles to save the life of one of the men who are trying to kill him. His pursuers then all decide that Tex is just too cool to kill. What a man! And what a set of ridiculous Western tropes. I'm just too old to accept a lot of that any more.
But Tex is helped, oddly, by the sometimes poor translation, which made me laugh here and there. For example, smack out of the gate a character says of a campfire: "The bonfire is still on. He must have fueled it no later than five minutes ago." It's a good thing he didn't turn that "bonfire" off, or stop "fueling" it, or there'd be no story ...
DISNEY MASTERS: DONALD DUCK & CO. FREE COMIC BOOK DAY SPECIAL EDITION (Fantagraphics): The only Ducks I read are the Carl Barks Library, so I guess I'm spoiled: The art on the two Donald Duck stories in this issue seemed really bad to me, and ruined what were typical Barksian stories. I also didn't care for the short Big Bad Wolf story, because I don't care about the Big Bad Wolf and/or the Three Little Pigs even the least littlest bit.
But I did enjoy the long Super Goof story. Not only was the art in the detailed, retro style of yore, but it reminded me of visiting my Kentucky cousins as a lad, one of whom collected Super Goof.
IT WON'T ALWAYS BE LIKE THIS: A GRAPHIC MEMOIR (Random House): This is an excerpt of a graphic novel, a memoir by writer/artist Malaka Gharib. It's from the beginning of the GN, where a young Malaka moves from California to Egypt to meet her new stepmother, where they bond over TV, shopping, eating and so forth. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen to explain why this story merits its own graphic novel, but the excerpt never got there (if there's a there to get to). The art looked like something an elementary school kid with no talent would draw, which for some reason isn't a deal-breaker for Random House. It is for me.
THE WINCHESTER HOUSE MYSTERY: THE HUNDRED YEARS CURSE (Source Point Press): The description says this is a standalone story in support of the ongoing Winchester House Mystery title at Source Point. It depicts a young couple taking the Winchester House tour, and since the young lady is psychically sensitive, she starts seeing ghosts and eventually contacts the house itself and the ghost of Sarah Winchester. The ghosts enlist her help to battle some nefarious supernatural doings. I don't know how any of this connects with the ongoing, since I've never read it, but this is a complete story, which I like.
The art, however ... is not good.
THE YEAR OF VALIANT FCBD 2020 SPECIAL (Valiant): This book contains a short but complete Bloodshot story, excerpts from Armorclads, Archer & Armstrong and Ninjak, plus an interview with Cullen Bunn about the upcoming Book of Shadows, the latest Shadowman title.
I have found many Bloodshot tales to have good-to-great art and poignant stories, and this is no exception. Sometimes Bloodshot is my favorite Valiant character, and sometimes it's Ninjak. Today is a Bloodshot day.
The Armorclads story had serviceable art but is just an unpleasant premise. Both the A&A and Ninjak excerpts were typical of their respective books, which I generally enjoy, so they served their purpose to whet the appetite despite their brevity. The Bunn interview is an in-house puff piece, which meant little to me, but might excite Shadowman fans.
EQUILIBRIUM (Comic House): Comic House is synonymous with the revived Lev Gleason brand, and merges the Captain Canuck characters with the '40s Lev Gleason superhero line. The Comic House books are apparently not distributed by Diamond, so I know little about them.
The story begins in a future dystopia where the Claw of O.G. Daredevil fame is the dictator of the world, along with his partner, a much-feared woman named Appolyn, who is a new character to me. As you'd expect, some rebels discover time travel and go back to our present to prevent the Claw from killing all the superheroes and conquering the world. The superheroes are in a team called Equilibrium (ergo the book's name), and include O.G. Daredevil, Red Coat (who dresses like Captain Canuck), Captain Battle, Silver Streak (who is now female and uses the "Streak Force") and several others I don't recognize and aren't referenced by name.
I don't know why Claw now has two heads, or why the team is called Equilibrium, or who half the characters are. But it's typical Marvel/DC-style superhero fare, which is a comfortable place to be. The art, however, is genuinely poor.
CLEMENTINE (Skybound/Image): This fat book has excerpts from Clementine Book One (coming in June), MachineBoy (September) and Sea Serpent's Heir (October). It is generous with the page count.
Clementine is set in the Walking Dead universe, and features a girl with an artificial lower leg in a great hurry to get some place despite the danger from walkers. She comes across a town that has survived, and gets a better artificial leg and some supplies. Then she sets out immediately because, as noted, she's in a hurry. That's all the plot we get, but the (great many) pages afforded to Clementine gives us time to know and like her. The art is sketchy and not really to my taste, but it's serviceable.
MachineBoy is about a robot boy in Japan who is chipper and good-hearted, but often rejected by those he tries to make friends with because, you know, he's a robot. He wants to get tickets to his favorite band, but a grandmotherly type woman he calls Grandma makes him practice his fighting skills first. "If you skip (training) once, you can skip it twice." So he does the training, then he tries to get tickets, but stops to help a lot of people along the way (who are not appreciative, because robot), which delays him and the tickets are sold out. Grandma comes to the rescue. It's a cute story, MachineBoy is likeable and the art is of a manga variety I find attractive.
Sea Serpent's Heir is the shortest story at 12 pages. We meet a teenage girl in a vaguely D&D-type world who yearns to leave her island and see the world. She does, in fact, go off in a skiff, gets injured, use magic to heal herself, but then ends up back on her island. There we are told about the religious order that basically runs the world, and meet some of the knights of that order who kill the world's monsters. They are not nice people, and evidently they and the church are widely disliked. Interesting premise, decent art.
GALAXIAS: THE PRETTIEST STAR SPECIAL EDITION (DC Comics): An excerpt from an upcoming graphic novel about a teenage alien princess who has been hiding on Earth disguised as a teenage boy. (There are bad people hunting her family.) A new schoolmate, who I assume will be the lesbian love interest, convinces her to "come out" and be her true self, although that's pretty dangerous. It is, of course, a metaphorical story about being trans, as the dialogue hammers home. That's as far as we get.
DC LEAGUE OF SUPER-PETS (DC Comics): This is an excerpt of DC League of Super-Pets: The Great Mxy-Up graphic novel, coming in July. It introduces us to the Super-Pets, their disappointment that their masters don't value them or understand them as much as they'd like, and then comes a monster that everyone, two-legged and more, respond to. That's as far as we get.
The art is crisp, clear and cartoony without being too cartoony. For the record, the pets and their masters are Krypto (Superman, of course); Ace the Bat-Hound (Batman); PB the Wonder Pig (Wonder Woman); Chip (Jessica Cruz Green Lantern); Keith, the Rodent Master of Moisture (looks like gerbil, Aquaman); Mark, the Fuzzy Flambe (also looks like a gerbil, Cyborg); and Mert the tortoise (Flash). They all have various super-powers. Needless to say, Chip is based on Ch'p but has electricity powers instead of a power ring, and is a regular Earth squirrel and not an anthropomorphic alien squirrel.
There's also a brief excerpt from the Primer graphic novel, which came out a couple of years ago.
Whew! More to come.
I did not know about the color-coded ratings (not that I ever agree with ratings, anyway). Mine were three blues and a green. I think some publishers are designated "gold" or whatever, based (I assume) on market share.
I think we talked about Tex last year. I bought the 2015 Dark Horse archive by Claudio Nizzi and Joe Kubert (because it's, y'know, Joe Kubert). I picked up last year's FCBD offering (or whatever year it was) but didn't read it so I didn't pick up this year's although I saw it.
There's a reason Carl Barks is known as "the good duck artist."
Jeff of Earth-J said:
There's a reason Carl Barks is known as "the good duck artist."
Ha! Yes, indeedy.
The thing about the color-coded ratings is ... what is the point of a ratings system that nobody knows about? Baffling.
Also, on the Gold/Silver tiers, Marvel and DC have always had books in both tiers, and some other publishers have over the years, so I knew the tiers weren't based on market share. But I didn't know what they were based on. Enter Mr. Google, and this is what Wiki said:
"Publishers pay for production of the give-away comic books and retailers pay the cost of printing the books that they order. Titles are divided by sponsorship level, price and anticipated demand into two tiers; participating retailers are required to carry all titles from the top tier, and may carry any or none of the second-tier titles. "
More FCBD Blue
TMNT FCBD 2022: THE ARMAGEDDON GAME (IDW): Current and past Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles scribes have teamed up for "The Armageddon Game," an upcoming Turtles event. A text piece between the two stories in this book explains how this came about. Former TMNT writer Tom Waltz (who wrote the first 100 issues of the Turtles ongoing and the text piece) will write the 12-issue TMNT: The Armageddon Game maxi-series, while current TMNT writer Sophie Campbell will continue with the ongoing, presumably crossing over with the Armageddon maxi.
The first story in the FCBD book is set in the "Armageddon" continuity, a dystopic, fascist world where authorities hunt the Turtles as part of an anti-mutant purge. As a neat treat for those who read the very first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles off the stands (like your humble narrator), this 10-page story mirrors the very first 10-page story, almost word for word and almost panel for panel. In case you missed the point, the second story reprints that first 10-page story, by Eastman and Laird.
In the original story, our heroes battled a street gang, but this time they're taking down some sort of heavily armed, anti-mutant police or military unit. One assumes"The Armageddon Game and the concurrent TMNT ongoing will explore this new dystopia for the "Yikes" factor, while also featuring attempts to restore the true timeline. Because, you know, comics.
I don't know if I'll read/review the "Armageddon Game" crossover, as I always felt like the Turtles were aimed at a specific age group of which I have long since ceased to be a member. But this is well done, and I'll sample the first few issues to see if it speaks to me.
25 YEARS OF BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER FREE COMIC BOOK DAY #1 (BOOM!): BOOM!'s current Buffy title is called The Vampire Slayer, and doesn't star Buffy -- she's a helpless, superfluous hanger-on while Willow is the Slayer and all-around Betty Sue. This issue helps explain the new status quo, first by using a faux-yearbook approach, not only to refer to past events, but also to show who and what everybody is in this new reailty. The last 15 pages are a story (possibly lifted from The Vampire Slayer #1, which I haven't read yet). It's a cute tale of Buffy visiting a psychiatrist because she feels so useless in this new reality, although the psychiatrist is really a vampire. It turns out Willow suspected that, and Buffy's only job was to ascertain that the doctor was indeed a vampire, then call for Willow, who is lingering outside. Since Buffy took the opportunity to get some counseling first (and to clue in the readers), she failed at her one job.
Do I want to read this version of Buffy until the timeline is, inevitably, straightened out? I don't know, but I will confess to always having had a crush on Alyson Hannigan.
NEVERLANDERS FREE COMIC BOOK DAY EDITION (Penguin Graphic): This is a twist on Peter Pan, where one of the Lost Boys (presumably) is now about 15, goes to the real world via Tinkerbell and finds some teenage orphans to take back. These orphans are living on their own in an abandoned trailer and are already street-hardened with their own "society" of sorts, so they are already hardier than the original Lost Boys (although the majority are girls). This is a much grittier take on Peter Pan, where it's mentioned that "the Pan has fallen," no other Lost Boys are seen and Captain Hook now has internal-combustion-engine flying ships that fire a lot more than cannonball.
The art is clear and on the cartoon side, which is where I had a little cognitive dissonance. This is drawn in a way that will attract kids, but written in a way to attract Teen/Teen+. As a result, I don't think it will satisfy either camp.
But the cover indicates where this is going, which is that our new Lost Boys/Girls will suit up as faux superheroes with various weapons and disguises as a pseudo-superhero team. Maybe that will induce more older readers to overlook the art.
BEST OF 2000 AD FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2022 (Rebellion/2000 AD): There's a lot going on here!
"Judge Dredd: Hard Talk" is a 6-page Judge Dredd story with really terrific art (it looks painted, but it's probably done on a computer). The story centers on a TV show opinion panelist who rants that Dredd is too soft on crime, which Dredd observes on a Jumbotron while arresting someone for littering. You can write your own ending, but predictable irony is a feature in Dredd stories.
"The Terror Tube" is a 7-page Nemesis story by the usual Nemesis crew, writer Pat Mills and artist Kevin O'Neill. Many comics fans love O'Neill's bizarre, angular, hyper-detailed art style, but I have never acquired the taste. If the art didn't literally hurt my eyes (straining to figure out what I'm looking at) I might really enjoy this series, which features a mysterious freedom fighter battling yet another fascist dystopia.
"Superbean" is a six-page piece of fluff featuring "Ken Clarkie" as a food-processing plant who is secretly Superbean, a six-foot, anthropomorphic legume. Once again the art (by QIRQX IV) is not to my taste, and this Superman parody is straightforward enough that most of us present could have written it better.
"Future Shocks" is a 4-pager with really attractive art about a flat-earth fanatic leading an expedition into the Arctic to prove his belief system. Turns out the Earth ISN'T round, but the reveal of what it is had me chuckling out loud at a myriad of creation-myth references.
"Mr. Meat Bingo's Zombie Umbrella" is a one-pager whose payoff didn't seem worth getting to, even though it didn't take long. Maybe there are other Meat Bingo stories out there, and I didn't get the whole point?
"D.R. & Quinch's Incredibly Excruciating Agony Page" is a one-pager starring two characters whose humor is so British that I usually end up saying "I don't get it." That applies here.
BARBARIC #1 FREE COMIC BOOK DAY EDITION (Vault): I suspect this is a reprint of Barbaric #1, as it features the origin of Owen the Barbarian, who is cursed to carry a blood-thirsty axe and do good deeds. Owen is a Conan-type guy who lives in a Hyborian-type world.
If you think Owen is a dumb name for a barbarian, that's part of the joke, as Owen complains that if his named rhymed with "guts" or "blood" or "death," more songs would be written about him. Unfortunately, not much rhymes with Owen that isn't boring.
He has been magically bonded by witches to a sentient, talking axe that craves blood, which provides two forms of humor. One is that nobody can hear the axe but Owen, so everyone thinks he's drunk or crazy. And also, blood acts on the axe like alcohol, so the axe is drunk by the end of every fight.
This isn't a comedy, though. Barbaric is often funny, but the subtext is serious enough. Owen isn't by nature a good guy, and despises being forced to be a good guy who must give help to everyone who asks for it. And he must kill people who deserve it; the axe makes the call, which gets Owen into a lot of hot water against his will. So the underlying storyline is Owen searching for a way to break the curse, get revenge on the witches and go back to a life of fighting, whoring and drinking. Like nature intended, I suppose. I don't expect that to happen any time soon, because Owen's story is pretty entertaining as is.
The art, too, is far better than I expected. It's appropriately gritty and A-level quality, but there's also another influence I can't quite put my finger on. Artist Nathan Gooden worked in movies, so maybe he picked up something there.
THE ELECTRIC BLACK: THE CHILDREN OF CAIN #0 (Scout Comics): This is actually something of a cliche, but that's not necessarily a complaint.
This issue follows Erebus, who clearly isn't human, but disguises himself as one when he walks the streets, and dresses like an evil Pilgrim. He is a member of/citizen of The Electric Black, which seems to be both a place and an organization. The Black is populated by wizards, lychanthropes and other things that go bump in the night. But they are, for all their murderous ways, the good guys. Not only are they fighting a fanatical, facist organization that runs the world, but they're the underdogs.
Their enemy is The White Lodge, a dominionist, fanatical religious organization that mercilessly hunts down Electric Black critters and kills them. I should also mention that all the members of the White Lodge we see are, in fact, white, and their dialogue would fit easily in any White Supremacist rant. They don't quite come out and say that, so I'm guessing it's meant to be a metaphor.
We've seen set-ups like this -- the good guys are the devils in the dark, the bad guys are the handsome but corrupt types who run the world -- in a jillion stories, going back to at least Batman's debut in 1939. Warren magazines tended to do this sort of story a lot, and I think Vampirella, Angel and Nocturnals still do. Those are the ones that leap to mind, anyway.
But just because a story's been done before doesn't make it bad. What counts is the execution, and here it's pretty good. I like the art, especially how shadows, dark colors and grit are emphasized in Electric Black scenes, and glaring, industrial white and yellows are used in the White Lodge scenes.
The good guys are easy to like and the bad guys are easy to hate. And these days, we could always use more, not less, stories that show us who the true bad guys really are.
STREET FIGHTER MASTERS: BLANKA #1 (UDON): I don't know anything about the Street Fighters series of video games, and after "reading" this book, I still don't.
I put "reading" in quotes because there's no dialogue. We're told the story takes place in the Amazon rainforest on page 1, and those are the last words we get. Which is fine; I was able to follow the story easily, so the creators know their onions.
And that story is about a huge, musclebound, green guy living in the Amazon, with huge red hair (on head, chest, shins and forearms). Flashbacks tell us he was a boy separated from his folks in a plane crash, but we don't see how he becomes what he is. (His parents are presumably dead.) He runs across a lost girl in the Amazon, and using what I assume are his action moves in the video game, reunites her with her father. Then loggers come to cut down the forest, who are guarded a huge, female lumberjack, whom I assume is another playable character in the video game. The green guy and the big girl fight, using what I assume are their attack modes in the game. The fight ends inconclusively (you don't want to upset a player who favors one or the other) and then there's an ironic, open-ended finale.
Nice art, and a nice enough diversion, but I wouldn't want to spend a lot of time reading material of this nature.
PRIMOS #1 FREE COMIC BOOK DAY (AWA): This book, co-written by comedian Al Madrigal, focuses on a teenager of Mexican ancestry who is visited by the shade of a Mayan sorcerer who tells him he has inherited sorcerous abilities and a great responsibility for their use. Evidently the Mayans were part of a large collection of alien civilizations who had banded together to fight off a great evil, and we see in flashback how our hero's ancestor flew to the central planet (on a Mayan-looking spacecraft, which was cool), where he learned everything he needed to teach the Mayans how to fight the evil and to recruit every culture on Earth into the fight. Of course, the Mayans didn't make it that far, and now Earth is in peril, and the weak link in the chain of planets holding back the evil.
Which manifests on Earth as big, muscly, Mayan-dressed, wrestler-looking bohunks. Our hero gets his sorcerer powers and fight theses hulks along with two others whose names, origins, etc., we don't know yet. (One's a hot Latina, of course, and the other is a big guy in a skull mask and robe.)
So it's a coming-of-age teen superhero story, which we've seen a million times, but with a fascinating, rarely used mythology, plus a larger story with a moral lesson. I could get into it, but the lead character has to grow out of his snarky self-pity phase pretty quickly for me to do so.
STRANGER THINGS: CREATURE FEATURE/RESIDENT ALIEN: THE GHOST FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2022 (Dark Horse):
This is a throwaway story that basically makes two points: 1) The Byers family (and Eleven) have left Hawkins, Indiana, for real, and 2) Eleven is still without her powers. The Byers are passing through Denver on the way to California, and Jonathan, Will and Elle take in a horror double-feature at a drive-in. (Winona Ryder is back at the hotel and does not appear.) Will and Jonathan have a brief heart-to-heart, while Elle is freaked out by kids in Mind-Flayer costumes, which she tries to fight with her powers, which don't work.
This probably takes place before the current Stranger Things miniseries (Kamchatka), but isn't necessary in any sense. However, it is good to see some of the gang again, and the art is A-list. So no complaints.
The Resident Alien story features Harry and Asta visiting an old lady who's bothered by a ghost. They investigate.
I won't spoil the ending of this short story. But it's by the usual Resident Alien team, and like that series, is well executed and on the charming, heart-warming side of the ledger.
BLACKGUARD/DANCING (Kodansha): This flip book introduces us to two new manga series, and my main complaint is that they don't show us enough! Manga has a lot more pages to work with than U.S. comics, and are in no hurry to finish telling the story. These two excerpts, while having both good art and story, don't finish setting up the set-up, so I don't know if I want to go any further.
In Blackguard, we come to understand that the world (or at least Japan) is threatened by some sort of disease that turns people into shojo* (white, long-tailed ape creatures) when bitten by a shojo. Through discussion among a unit of police/military tasked with dealing with shojo, we come to learn that when the situation is too much for a given unit, they call in back-up -- which is a single person in a black robe. (Maybe the same person for every unit, I can't tell.) This person is probably the Blackguard of the title, but they don't say. And we don't know any more about him, since when the unit calls him in, he appears and the excerpt is over.
* I thought Shojo (or Shoujo) in Japan meant manga aimed at adult women, but I guess a word can have two meanings.
On the flip side we get a high school boy whose friends want him to join them in signing up for the dancing class to meet girls, but he is afraid to because of some traumatic event from middle school (we see a few panels in flashback, but not enough to know what the trauma is). He sees a girl dancing by herself in front of a glass wall and is enamored, and shockingly, it turns out she's in his next class. The excerpt stops there.
OK, I can make a few educated guesses: 1) Dancing Girl will be in the dancing class, 2) our hero will join the class like his friends want him to in order to meet Dancing Girl, 3) he will have to get over his trauma to win the fair maiden.
Those are all just guesses.
KAIJU NO. 8 FREE COMIC BOOK DAY (VIZ): A student in the Japanese Defense Force training school has an older friend who has turned into the kind of kaiju the JDF battles. But unlike other kaiju, the friend can change back and forth and isn't a threat, so the protagonist protects his secret. It's a tough secret to keep, because the friend tends to show his kaiju face when he gets upset. Nevertheless, the friend is going to take the JDF exam anyway, because it's what he trained his whole life to do. Our protagonist thinks this is a bad idea. On the day of the exam, they are harassed about where they parked by an obnoxious exam-taker who happens to be an attractive girl.
That's all we get! I'm guessing obnoxious girl is meant to become the love interest for the same-aged student who is our protagonist, and will learn to be a less obnoxious person in the process. There will be some tension with kaiju-in-disguise guy, and some of the story will focus on his search for a cure. After that, i have no idea what this is about.
The art is from one of the manga schools I enjoy.
SPIDEY AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS (Marvel Comics): I don't think this is an FCBD book; doesn't say so on the cover and it's not listed at Diamond. But it was free and I didn't have it, so I picked it up.
It's a sampler for the new cartoon show starring chibi versions of Peter Parker Spider-Man, Mile Morales Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy Ghost Spider, with brief stories, introduction, puzzles and games. It should be pretty entertaining, I think, for maybe a second grader? I dunno. It's well done for what it is, but I'm too damn old to know what age group it's aimed at.
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2022: SPIDER-MAN/VENOM #1 (Marvel Comics): We've got three previews here. The last are certainly excerpts, but the first story has a beginning, middle and end (plus a tease), so it may be unique to this book. You'd better get one!
"Lost in the Mail": Spidey comes across a mailbox that inexplicably comes alive, grows Venom-like teeth and tries to eat a civiian. He beats it, whereupon it turns into an ordinary mailbox, only for a postal employee to arrive and want him arrested for destroying federal property. Ha ha! The mailbox possession could be by a symbiote, given its appearance, or created by the Goblin Queen, who performed similar stunts in "Inferno," including a hungry mailbox. (Coincidentally, "Inferno" has recently been re-released in omnibus form.) But you don't have to guess! The teaser shows Chasm (symbiote-joined Ben Reilly) joining in an alliance with the Goblin Queen. "To be continued in Dark Web!"
"Seven Seals" features Eddie Brock's son, the current Venom, recruiting Normie Osborn with a symbiote (white and red, I don't know which that is, and it wasn't named), to help him rescue his father. Eddie, meanwhile, is shown wandering around in a void with one eye gouged out, wanting to get back to Earth to watch over his son. A voice in the void taunts him and shows him visions, one of his son, and another of a whole bunch of differently colored and styled symbiotes in some sort of gathering or confrontation. "To be continued in Venom!"
"All-Out Avengers" is three whole pages from All-Out Avengers #1 that drops us directly into the action, where Captain America is racing through an exploding building, while talking to Iron Man, who is fighting something that looks a lot like Man-Bat, while She-Hulk and Thor are fighting Ulik the Troll. There's talk of a "Revenant Stone" and voiceover that is almost certainly Loki. "The action continues in All-Out Avengers #1 ... coming in September!"
I don't have much to say, review-wise. The art is all A-list Marvel throughout, so no complaints.
the Spider-Man story is funny and the Avengers story features the Big Three plus a Hulk, which I like. The plots sound like I'd enjoy reading them.
As to the third story, regular readers know I despise Venom with the heat of a thousand, thousand suns, so I had to force myself to read it just to summarize it here.
Two out of three ain't bad!
That's it for the Blues. Next up are the Greens.
Last night I reread "The Coming of Galactus" from a Marvel Treasury Edition from 1974; it cuts out the first part of issue 48 and the last part of issue 50, which are wrapping up and setting up the previous and subsequent stories. It's not the worst idea for serialization... there's never a jumping-off point! There are some other stories, too, but Galactus is the main event. Plus it has the debut of the Punisher! (No, not that one. Galactus's space robot henchdroid.)
I also just started reading Joe Kubert's origin of Tarzan from a DC treasury I picked up at the same time, and it's pretty incredible. Absolutely gorgeous Joe Kubert art throughout this thing!
In both cases, it's a real treat to see these comics reproduced at such a large size.
I remember that Fantastic Four #50 wraps up the Galactus part pretty quickly, and then it's on to Johnny Story at college. What a comparison to how comics are structured and paced today!
Yep! And from what I can tell, 48 opens with the conclusion of the Inhumans' first appearance, from 45-48.
I really love the way the Galactus story opens -- with the sky filled with flames, and everybody panicking. Later it's revealed that the fire was just the Watcher trying to obscure earth from Galactus's view so he'd eat somewhere else. But its a great effect -- an exciting, apocalyptic kickoff to such a major story.
MORE FCBD: BEGINNING THE GREEN LABELS
FUZZY BASEBALL GREATEST HITS: FREE COMIC BOOK DAY (Papercutz): This book provides excerpts from the Fuzzy Baseball line of graphic novels by John Steven Gurney, in funny animals play baseball. As you might expect, there are a a lot of baseball/animal puns (Jackie Rabbitson, Hammy Sosa, Sandy Kofox, etc.). The art is attractive and the stories are upbeat – well the parts I saw were. None of the excerpts are a complete story.
MAX MEOW: CAT ON THE STREET COMICS SPECTACULAR (Random House): Random House publishes a line of Max Meow graphic novels, all for young kids. Max Meow and Mindy become the superheroes Cat Crusader and Science Kitty when they say their respective secret words (Meowza and Mindy). The cartoon art is clear and uncluttered. Young children might enjoy these simple stories, puzzles and games.
JONNA AND THE UNPOSSIBLE MONSTERS FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2022 (Oni Press): I know that Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters is a series, which I sadly have not read. This book features a complete story of Jonna’s sister, Rainbow, searching for her after the arrival of the monsters in whatever this pre-industrial society is.
We briefly see some time before the monsters arrive, where it’s established that Jonna can leap/bounce from tree trunk to tree trunk in what amounts to a super-power. But that’s all we learn before a (the first?) monster arrives and Rainbow gets knocked out. The story resumes after Rainbow has awakened to find Jonna missing, the world overrun with monsters and society collapsed to hunter-gatherer level. She has been searching for Jonna for apparently some time. So my best guess is that this story precedes the Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters series, and that Rainbow finds her sister there.
It's a pretty book. It’s drawn by Chris Samnee, whose Daredevil and Fire Power have drawn so much praise. The one kaiju we see is interesting, in that he has virtually no rendering, whereas everything else does. The story is charming, if a bit sad, with Rainbow’s long search. It ends on a hopeful note, which hopefully picks up in the Jonna series.
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG FCBD 2022 (IDW): What do you know, a full story in 12 pages, teaming Sonic, Knuckles and Tails against Dr. Eggman. There are lots of references to current storylines in the ongoing Sonic title, but I had no trouble following the action. It’s Sonic, not Shakespeare, and good for what it is.
And just in case I did have trouble following the action, the next eight pages feature evil Dr. Starline summarizing the recent Sonic storylines for henchrobots Surge and Kit, who promptly forget, because of their programming. Anyway, this is all a prelude, says the villain, for what’s going to happen in the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog #50.
THE REMA CHRONICLES: REALM OF THE BLUE MIST (Scholastic): This is an excerpt from the graphic novel of the same name, so don’t expect a full story.
The excerpt begins with a girl, Tabby, falling through a portal into what I assume is the Realm of the Blue Mists, which is not on Earth. (Tabby doesn't learn she isn't on Earth for most of this excerpt.) The actual graphic novel must start somewhat earlier, because there’s mention of Tabby searching for her father, a tree that emits a mist, ghosts and, weirdly, Yggdrasil. Also Tabby apparently follows a handsome dude into said portal.
So she and Handsome Dude, whom we later learn is named Phillip, come to in what seems like a wigwam or yurt or something. Phillip is whispering and asks her to do the same. Voices from outside call him “Keeper” and “Keeper Phillip,” and apparently Tabby is in danger. He tells her she has to stay there while he reports to “the council” but he will return and get her home.
True to his word, he reappears some hours later and whisks her away from wherever they were. Turns out he can fly, heal people, and other amazing things, although that tires him out. Tabby is, of course, smitten.
But that’s as far we get! I have no idea who or what the “Rema” of the title is. But the art is a pleasant, manga-derived, cartoony style that serves the story well. I’m not the target audience, but this seems well done.
AVATAR THE LAST AIRBENDER FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2022 (Dark Horse): A chibi version of Aang wakes up alone, as Sokka and Toph have left. They leave a humorous number of notes telling him not to leave the house. He does, and runs into two of his friends (also chibis), Toph and Katara, who are alarmed that he is out of the house and are obviously keeping something secret from him. I have no idea who any of these people are, or what their relationships are, but my Comic Book Sense says "surprise party for Aang."
OK, that’s all we get, as the story will continue in July’s Avatar the Last Airbender: Aang’s Unfreezing Day GN. I’m not into Avatar, and I’m not into chibis, but the art was clean and even with my utter ignorance of the characters and storyline, sufficient to put a smile on my face.
This is followed by a 10-page Legend of Korra story, another IP I’m unfamiliar with. “Beach Wars” features a bunch of characters of varying ages and ethnicities on a beach, although they seem to all be friends, couples, or relatives. The kids are playing pranks, but instead of stopping them, the two “grandmothers” recall their own youth playing pranks, and join in. Since everybody seems to have some sort of super-powers, this promises to be epic. But that’s the end.
I loved the art, which is another manga style I don’t see too often. I was able to vaguely follow who was friends with whom, and who was dating whom, and so forth. For something I know nothing about, I was mildly entertained.
THE THREE STOOGES 2022 FCBD SPECIAL (American Mythology): I freely admit I’m no Stooges fan. I don’t dislike them, but I only find them amusing in small doses. And in a comic book? I don’t see how physical slapstick can work in print, without sound effects, mugging, etc. That being said, there are three complete stories here, which is a plus.
“Slapstick Special” is an 8-pager with the Stooges in virtual reality, allowing them to appear in parodies of other properties. The “Tron” parody was OK – I liked Larry referring to it as “me and a couple of other fellas were having a nice bike ride” – but the highlight is definitely Shemp showing up as Morpheus, offering Curly the red and blue pills. Art is clear, clean and OK.
“Robonic Stooges” is a 10-pager where the boys are robots with extendible limbs a la Coil-Man of the Impossibles, Marvel’s Machine Man or Bender of Futurama. Which had the effect of making them less interesting, as what’s the point of robot slapstick? Art is clear, clean and OK.
“The Three Stooges: Thru the Ages” is a six-pager with the idiots trying to impress a movie-studio owner, Mr. Bigwig. Somehow they appear in various movie vignettes, from Westerns to Cleopatra to big musicals to beach movies to etc. A lot is packed in here, and the art extremely cluttered, which I might have appreciated more when my eyes were younger. As it is, this is my least favorite of the three stories.
HOLLOW FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2022 (BOOM! Box): This is an excerpt, but it gives us enough to figure out what the GN is about.
It’s Isabel “Izzy” Crane’s first day at school in Sleepy Hollow. Everybody is wildly into the town’s Headless Horseman legend, with decorations and costumes and pranks. It’s only Oct. 3, and “Holloween” has already begun. We go through a tedious day with Crane, as high school tends to be.
I didn’t pick up on this immediately, but Izzy (Isabel) is a girl, who dresses like a boy, looks like a boy, and is attracted to girls. That’s probably made clear at the beginning of the GN, which is not included here.
Anyway, we later meet Victoria Van Tassel, a sort of celebrity at the school due to her last name, which she hates. Crane is immediately attracted to her, but when she introduces herself, Van Tassel is outraged that she’s a Crane and storms off in a huff. “Sorry, but being seen with a ‘Crane’ is the last thing I need!”
That’s about as far as we get, but the contours of the story seem obvious. Crane will pursue Van Tassel, who will have nothing to do with her, until a climactic event that will make Van Tassel see Crane in a more favorable light. Whatever the climax is, it will certainly involve the Headless Horseman, or at least a pretender.
The art is the sort of generic, vaguely cartoony, vaguely manga-inspired style that most of these green-label books seem to prefer. Maybe it’s generic in all kids/YA graphic novels.
The Robonic Stooges is an adaptation of the short-lived (September 1977 - March 1978) cartoon series. I'm a life-long Stooges fan, but they only ever really worked for me in live-action, and even then only their earlier stuff. (They were never as good after Shemp passed away, and really their best stuff was with Curley.) To me, a big part of their appeal was that they effectively were "live-action cartoons". Making them actual cartoons took away a lot of what was special about them. Plus, the cartoons and comic strip versions that I've seen were never very good.
Captain Comics said:
“Robonic Stooges” is a 10-pager where the boys are robots with extendible limbs a la Coil-Man of the Impossibles, Marvel’s Machine Man or Bender of Futurama. Which had the effect of making them less interesting, as what’s the point of robot slapstick? Art is clear, clean and OK.
The Baron said:
They only ever really worked for me in live-action, and even then only their earlier stuff. ... To me, a big part of their appeal was that they effectively were "live-action cartoons".
This is by far the best description of the Stooges' appeal I've ever read. It certainly was in the back of my mind where I couldn't fathom how their appeal could survive in print, or with robots. As I was writing, I couldn't explain why I felt that way, because I couldn't articulate their appeal. But you just did it for me.