Thank you to Diamond Comics for sending me all these Free Comic Book Day comics in advance. I now no longer need to take my children to Free Comic Book Day tomorrow. But I will. So what do we have? And can I mark them out of ten for desirability, newness, content and general appeal? I'll give it a try.
Mouse Guard, Labyrinth And Other Stories. 10/10.
This is the one people will kill for. Or at least queue outside Forbidden Planet for hours for. A hardcover 48 page mini-graphic novel anthology of original short stories, including Return of The Dapper Men, Cursed Pirate Girl, Rust and Cow Boy. It is gorgeous. It is sweet, It is hilarious. It is moving, especially Rust. And it is a free hardcover. This is the one you want. Good luck.
Lady Death: The Beginning. 5/10.
It's not hardcover, but is is glossy, thick, and full of vicious, bloody, battles in bikinis. This is the Lady Death #0 revamp story repurposed for Free Comic Book Day, used to promote the first new Lady Death volume. Definitely not for their kids. But possibly for their dads. Seriously, this is the kind of comic that should be pushed on the reluctant father, you never know where it may lead.
Jurassic Strike Force 5. 1/10
We already have Dinosaurs Vs Aliens… but what if the Aliens are Dinosaurs? Basically a sci-fi space opera with humanoid dinosaurs. Made to be a toy line. Pretty painted comic though.
Spongebob/Bongo Flipbook 7/10
Okay, this I wasn't expecting. Spongebob gets a copy of Mermaid Man comics, telling a tale from his glory days on one side. While we get Comic Book Guy in a range of cosplay costumes out front. And right in the middle a beautiful short autobiographical story by Sergio Aragones. Hiding. Worth the hunt.
Buffy/The Guild flipbook 9/10
Buffy vs Aliens in continuity. Oh yes. And The Guild continues its classic take-a-real-life-situation-and-use-World-Of-Warcraft-to-exaggerate-its-every-component in very much a 101 way.
Overstreet Comic Book Marketplace 2/10.
Focusing on horror comics, it manages to list the price of any comic. It does have an interview with Bleeding Cool Magazine editor Jim Kuhoric, about his horror comic writing, but for anyone actually looking for a free comic, it's rather disappointing…
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. 6/10.
The first few pages of the first book of Vertigo's adaption of the Millennium Trilogy. You can get this right now on ComiXology if you don't want to wait…
Mega Man. 1/10
Thr origin of Mega Man. Um. Tiresome waffle. And my eyes hurt from standardised character model sheets.
It feels like a bad nineties indie superhero comic book, without any reason to exist. You could probably have forgiven that back then. Today? Not as easy. For thirteen year old boys who hate themselves.
Spider-Man Season One. 2/10
It's the first bit of Spider-Man Season One. That's it. Spider-Man is not in this comic.
Barnaby And Mr O'Malley. 6/10
Fantagraphics are reprinting the1940's Barnaby comic strip from Crockett Johnson for an unfamiliar audience… so what better way to use Free Comic Book Day to fix that? A young boy and his fairy godfather on Little Nemoesque adventures. Soon you'll be Cushlamochreeing with the rest of them.
Green Lantern/Young Justice/Superman Family Adventures. 6/10
The latter bit is the best, a heavily cartoon stylised take on Superman and friends. The rest feels a little dumbed down. Including the replacement for Mr Mxyzptlk, Mr Myrwhyhydden…
Avengers: Ultron War 0.1. 3/10
It's Avengers 12.1. That's it.
Donald Duck Family. 5/10
Some great Carl Barks Donald Duck comics. Seriously, if you never have, find out why the Scandinavians still go nuts for this stuff. And wonder how the Beagle Brothers can be such stupid criminals… because everyone else is even stupider!
Sonic The Hedgehog. 3/10
It strikes me as strange that Archie is in the news so much, but for FCBD, Archie are just publishing licensed books. Thankfully less "on model" than Mega Man, but it's another very uninspired story, with some artistic flair. It does have a good, if trite, ending.
The Smurfs/Tinkerbell flipbook 7/10
Compare that to The Smurfs, which is far more inventive in their reprinting of classic strips. Or even the new Papercutz strips, Ernest & Rebecca which is genuinely artistically innovative in its approach, as is Dance Class. Hell, Tinkerbell isn't bad either. For kids, this could be the least expected but most rewarding book of the day. Genuinely impressed. Few people will be hunting this down, so this could be our little secret.
Star Wars/Serenity flipbook. 8/10
Han Solo in the front, Mal in the back sounds like slash fic of the highest order. Zack Whedon writes them both and despite their similariities, finds a separate voice. And in the middle an original Alabaster story that provides the other half to the one in Buffy/The Guild… yeah, people are going to want these.
Ultimate Spider-Man. 2/10
The first issue, made free. With screencaps from the TV series, recomposed as comic. Which points out that standard comic book artists frame individual panels better than animated artists. And losing solid black lines on such a comic lets your eyes slip off the images. They tried, they really did. but… no.
Moomins/Anna & Froga 5/10
I grew up with The Moomins. This comic is just as idiosyncratic as the books, with a comic style that makes me feel I'm wrapped in honey. I can't comment on this objectively, it's just lovely. Anna & Froga, I don't know, it is rather primitive, but it's not often I read a comic book about one character accidentally eating another.
The Incredible Rockhead
The Incredible Rockhead leads this comic of silly kid superheroes and supervillains from Capstone, including Scissorlegz and Zinc Alloy. Oh and the Superpets pinup which may well be worth the non-existent price in and of itself.
The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel 4/10
Over the top melodramatic manga with everyone screaming and striking very silly poses.. If you like that sort of thing, you'll love this, but it mostly annoys me.
Basically Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning recreate the Legion Of Superheroes by way of Strikeforce Morituri. It feels a lot blander than it could be. But then I always felt that way about the Legion.
Yo Gabba Gabba! 8/10
The only comparison with Lady Death FCBD is that they both feel thick, that you're getting your non-existent money's worth. It's a satisfying feeling. The whole book is as great as you'd expect but the standout has to be the Evan Dorkin strip which tells one of those standard kiddy superhero stories, with some very non-standard tangents. Not everyone does those tangents well, but Dorkin excels.
A pretty but bland introduction leads into a less pretty but far more satisfying comic, giving Witchblade a quick runa round her new town of Chicago. A lot more interesting than it has any right to be. And that very pretty opening stays with you too. Shouldn't be hard to find, and it might just get you back into Top Cow…
The New 52 8/10
Their top superhero creators, putting together a book that both explains some backstory as to what has been going on with certain characters, and teases and tantalises the future. One of the most desirable books for existing comic book fans tomorrow, with some lovely Ivan Reis art and there should be many many thousands to go round. If you're a DC reader, it's essential.
Bad Medicine 7/10
There we go. A Fringey comic with homicide police tracking down medical impossibilities. A body found with no head. Except the head is still there. A history of medical research that defies explanation. And a cop trying to do her job. Yes, it's obviously a TV pilot, but it's a rather enjoyable one at that.
Worlds Of Aspen 2012 6/10
It teases two books, Homecoming which seems incredibly forced and compressed, a lot to get over in a short amount of time and it doesn't really. And Idolized, which totally does and gets the reader inside the character's head easily… and brutally. I'll be picking up the latter.
Top Shelf Kids Club 7/10
All new stories, from a bunch of great kids comic creators, it's basically this versus Yo Gabba Gabba. This probably has greater variety of character, tone and creator. I should put them in ring and let them fight.
Burt Ward Boy Wonder/Wrath Of Titans flipbook 3/10
When Burt Ward wrote about his days on Batman, it was mostly the sexual antics on set. This doesn't get mentioned at all as the actor enters the old Batcave and gets transported into adventure. No shagging, but a load of gash. Wrath Of The Titans is much prettier but suffers from being an illustrated story where the visuals often make the text superfluous. Like reading a comic with a script running down the side.
Dinosaurs Vs Aliens 9/10
Talking of which. I'm torn about much of this comic because, while we get to see the finished art, we also see the pencils which actually appeal to be even more. Nevertheless, taking the concept of Manifest Destiny, and an attempted colonisation of the Earth millions of years ago, against intelligent bands of dinosaurs ticks so many boxes. Oh and Grant Morrison writing. Tick tick tick tick tick…
The Censored Howard Cruse 6/10
A much better Boom! comic for Free Comic Book Day. Real life stories of sex and drugs from a man who has experiemnetd with both more than some. And a CBLDF message in the back, to back up all the black bars the publisher has had to use in this preview to gt it through to Free Comic Book Day… no nipples but plenty of stipples!
Graphic Elvis 7/10
The last comic Stan Lee actually wrote was Stripperella. Here, surrounded by sketches and tributes to the singer, is Stan Lee comic about Elvis, drawn by Jeevan J Kang in the styling of Jack Kirby. Also known as The King. Walking, with the rest of humanity, on a star bridge to heaven. And an animated version available on a digital app.
What a bizarre thing to find here.
My Favorite Martian 2/10
Reprints of, well, My Favorite Martian comics from the sixties ahead of a collection. Sorry, not my thing. Is it anyone's?
Atomic Robo 8/10
It's wonderful. The Hardon Space Collider is threatening to destroy reality, so Atomic Robo and Doctor Dinosaur must team up so there's a universe left to conquer/defend from being conquerered. With a couple of IT guys. And then it gets really odd. Isn't that enough to make you run for this at the speed of time (which is so much faster than the speed of light)? And there's Neozoic, which also has dinosaurs, but they're not quite as good as Doctor Dinosaur's Futuresaur. And Bonnie LAss which has no dinosaurs, but could probably do with them. Still, it's all good.
Gossamyr/Stuff Of Legend flipbook 7/10
This may surprise. A childhood genius with a mind incomprehensible t humanity, licing in a world we cannot see and only he can follow its riles and find a way to survive. A rather remarkable beginning. And a preview of the next Stuff Of Legend series, The Toy Collector, that looks to get darker and dirtier than ever before.
Adventure Time/Peanuts flipbook. 9/10
Joining Lady Death and Yo Gabba Gabba in the thickness stakes, this should have mega children appeal, with decent adult appeal as well. Not only do you get Finn & Jake stories, but Bacon Fields, new Peanuts stories and old Charles Schulz strips too. More than you usually get for $3.99… and it's all free. Has your store ordered enough?
Transformers #80.5 9/10
For Transformers comics fans, this is your moment. The continuation of Marvel US and Marvel UK Transformers continuity by Simon Furman and Andrew Wildman, the team who were working on this book all those years ago. I expect the signing and sketching crowd at Orbital Comics for the full creative team tomorrow to be… rather large. And Witness! The beginning of the end!
Image 20 8/10
Six new comics from Image, six new previews of the upcoming books, and a real sense that Image is looking to the future, and not resting on its laurels. As good branding for Image Comics as they are previews of the series. Revival is probably my most anticipated…
Ride/Anti flipbook 5/10
Okay, that's weird. The Ride preview by Nathan Edmondson and Paul Azaceta may be half of the first issue. In which a woman is attacked as part of nan attempted rape and killed by some amoral chancer. And then stops. It's basically horrible without any redemptive or revengeful arc to contextualise it. The new series Ride: Southern Gothic is set to start in August with creators including David Lapham, Rick Leonardi, Tom Raney, Ron Marz, Kody Chamberlain, Dexter Vines and more. But right now I don't want to read any more at all. As a preview, I think it's really badly judged. And might as well have been called Rape. Anti in the flipside by Peter Calloway and Daniel Hillyard also starts with a rape, with a Ms Deathwish type jumping in three pages in, which quickly turns into something even nastier, though this has intrigue and has me wanting to pick up the one dollar first issue in July…
World's Most Dangerous Animals 2/10
Okay this is just weird. Two stories looking at the life of the grizzly bear and a crocodile, combined with personal stories of surviving attacks by both, portrayed in a relatively realistic and believeable fashion… woth Jurassic Strikeforce 5 at the end featuring humanoid dinosaurs blowing shit up. Quite the wrench.
Zombie Kid 7/10
It may no longer be a parody of Diary Of A Wimpy Kid. Except it really really really is. And you know what? Not bad.
Valiant 2012 8/10
Preview of X-O Manowar, out now. Preview of Harbinger, out next month. And heavily censored script of Bloodshot, with plenty of teases to come. They're pushing this like they have reinvented the comic book and from these previews, it's nice but nithing special. The speculation however may start… on Saturday.
And here's the Alan Moore strip, a classic one with Steve Dillon from yesterday, smacked up against a new Dredd story by John Wagner and Rufus Dayglo, as well as introductions to the wide wide world of 2000AD. Have you ever read this comic? When was the last time? Here's an easy way to get up to speed.
So there we go folks. Free comics with Stan Lee, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Brian Bendis, Bryan Hitch, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Ivan Reis, Carl Barks, Charles Schulz, Evan Dorkin, David Petersen, Howard Cruse and Art Baltazar. So what are you doing tomorrow? And what books will you absopositutely have to have? Which ones will you give to others? And which one will you try to flip on eBay?