Friday, June 8, 2012


It was summer so, of course, Archie and the gang were hitting the
beach on the Harry Lucey-penciled cover of Archie #140 [September
1963].  Wherever Riverdale is, it has a beach.  I’m glad the kids
there haven’t gone all Jersey Shore on us.

Inside the issue, there are three Archie stories written by Frank
Doyle with art by Lucey, Bill Vigoda, and Lucey inked by Marty Epp.
Mr. Lodge figures prominently in two of the stories and Pop Tate in
the third.  Sort of odd to see adults playing such major roles in
all of the stories.

Rounding out the issue are fillers: Archie in “Animal Antics” by an
unidentified writer with art by Vigoda and inker Terry Szenics and
“Li’l Jinx” by Joe Edwards.  That adds up to 24 pages of comics for
12 cents.  I miss those days.


Heading back into my stack of Free Comic Book Day goodies...

Arcana Studios Presents the Intrinsic offers a 26-page, full-color
superhero-ish adventure that misses the mark on nearly everything
that’s important to be as a comics reader.  Most of the characters
in this last cast of characters aren’t named.  The back story isn’t
distinct or well-explained.  The writing and art aren’t even up to
journeyman standards.  The cover, though it’s better drawn than the
interiors, features the usual stock heroic poses.  I hate to seem
cruel, but there’s nothing to see here than you can’t find better
realized in dozens of DC/Marvel super-hero titles.  If you’re going
to do super-hero comics, you need to have a new idea or a strong,
unique voice.  Robert Kirkman’s Invincible has that.  Thom Zahler’s
Love and Capes has that.  Mark Waid’s Incorruptible/Irredeemable
two-punch has that.  The Intrinsic doesn’t. 


Marvel’s Free Comic Book Day 2012 (Spider-Man: Season One) No. 1 is
twenty pages of the graphic novel by Cullen Bunn with art by Neil
Edwards and Karl Kesel.  Surrounded by ads for other Marvel comics
and publications, most of them featuring the Avengers and Spider-
Man in various incarnations.  It’s a solid presentation from start
to finish.  Good writing.  Good art.  A classic tale retold in good
fashion.  While I can’t personally get too excited by or worked up
about the Season One books - I couldn’t begin to tell you how many
versions of how many Marvel origins I’ve read over the decades - I
think they do what they are meant to do: introduce key characters
to new readers.  I have also read the complete Daredevil and X-Men
Season One books and, if I have any complaint about them, it’s that
they sometimes read like summaries rather than stories.  But I'm not
the target audience for these perfectly acceptable graphic novels.
For that audience, Marvel did good with this FCBD giveaway.


The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Special Edition 1 [Vertigo] has 22
pages from the graphic novel adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s novel by
Denise Mina with artists Leonardo Manco and Andrea Mutti.  It was
a little hard for me to get into - I haven’t read the novel or seen
the movie - but it was well-written and well-drawn.  This is a good
choice for a FCBD giveaway.  If someone enjoyed the Larsson novel,
I think this would convince them to read the graphic novel. 

The giveaway also contains previews of four other Vertigo titles.
They all look pretty interesting to me, even the one with vampires
and zombies.  Well done, Vertigo.


Papercutz’s The Smurfs and Disney Fairies was a swell FCBD issue.
While the Smurfs have never grabbed me, there’s no denying the high
quality of the art and writing.  I thought the notes/plugs at the
bottom of the story pages were a good touch.

“Ernest & Rebecca” (about a young girl and her germ best friend) is
a funny and interesting series, as is “Dance Class” (one-page gag
strips about young dancers).  I’ll probably request review copies
from editor-in-chief Jim Salicrup.  Hey, Jim... 

The four-page Tinkerbell excerpt wasn’t enough for me to judge its
overall story quality, but the writing wasn’t bad and the art was
quite lovely.  This is probably worth checking out as well.  Even
though they belong to a huge corporation, Disney characters always
have a great deal of charm, cuteness and sweetness. 

I’d rate this one of the better FCBD efforts.


Top Shelf’s Top Shelf Kids Club offered four-page samplers of six
different features.  Chris Eliopoulos’ “Okie Dokie Donuts” was my
favorite of the selections, but I think many if not most of these
will appeal to young readers.  This is a first-rate FCBD giveaway.


My reaction to Valiant Comics FCBD 2012 Special? It boils down to
“Nothing to see here.”  Nothing in the previews made me think there
is anything new or interesting in these reboots/revivals/whatever.
I was a little annoyed that one of the previews tossed in a couple
cheap shots at Obama and Democrats, but that was as much reaction
to this stuff as I could muster.

When Valiant made its 1990s debut, I thought some of the company’s
comics were  intriguing and some were really well-done.  Most of
them became less intriguing and well-done by their second year of
existence.  I lost interest.

For some readers of the 1990s, Valiant was their “Marvel,” so I do
understand their interest in these returning series.  I think those
readers were probably much more excited by this preview than I was.
I hope the actual comic books please those readers and do well for
the company and the freelancers working on them.

If the guy who lends me his comic books buys these Valiant titles,
I’ll read them.  If he doesn’t, I won’t.  My disinterest aside, I
think this FCBD issue does a good job of rallying the readers who
are predisposed to buy Valiant titles.  That is certainly a valid
approach to Free Comic Book Day.  I hope it pans out for Valiant,
its freelancers, and its readers. 

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2012 Tony Isabella


  1. There were a couple of Valiant titles that I really liked back in the day - Magnus & Harbingers. So I may give the new Harbingers a try.

    Re: politics in comics. I don't like the intrusion of political cheap shots at EITHER party in my comics. I go to comics / graphic novels for ENTERTAINMENT, not thinly disguised personal shots at politicians.

    --Tom Hunter

  2. Like Anonymous I did read a few of the Valiant books back in the '90s. I was more into X-O and Archer & Armstrong, both of which I was sorry to see cancelled. I'll have to check out some of the books when they are on the shelf, since my shop was out of the Valiant FCBD, by the time I dropped in.

  3. I read the early issues of Valiant's MAGNUS.
    They were okay. And Steve Ditko drew some of them IIRC.