Friday, June 12, 2015


I’m trying to read and review every one of the free Free Comic Book Day comic books I got from my pal Bob Hoskins and the cool crew of Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. I judge these issues on their quality, their accessibility to new readers and whether I think they will convince those readers to buy the showcases titles and features. Let’s get right to it...

My favorite free comic book of this week’s batch is Marvel’s Free Comic Book Day 2015 (Avengers) #1. There are three story fragments. The first two could qualify as complete short tales with the third being long enough to get my attention  

The lead feature is the All-New, All-Different Avengers by writer Mark Waid and artist Mahmud Asrar. The roster is Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Vision, Ms. Marvel, Nova and Spider-Man...but these are the current, not always classic versions of the heroes. The ten-page fragment is all action, but it allow every member of the team a moment or two. It leads into the first issue of the ongoing title.

Next up is ten pages of the Uncanny Inhumans by Charles Soule and artist Brandon Peterson. I wasn’t a big fan of the Inhumans in the 1960s and 1970s because they grew and kept slaves. Marvel has moved from that original concept. Between the comic books themselves and the use of the Inhumans in TV’s Agents of SHIELD series, I now find the concept as interesting and somewhat less confusing than X-Men has been in decades. This is an intriguing story fragment leading into the first issue of the new ongoing series.

Rounding out the issue are three pages of Max Ride: First Flight #1, which is apparently based on a book by James Patterson that was scheduled to be a movie. The short fragment didn’t give me any real clue as to what the series was about, but the writing (Marguerite Bennett) and art (Alex Sanchez) were nicely done.

On my free comic book checklist, the quality was high on all three fragments. The Avengers and Inhumans fragments were accessible to new readers. I will definitely be reading Avengers and Inhumans when they are published. On Max Ride, I’ll wait until I can get a copy of a collection edition from my local library.

This wasn’t a perfect FCBD issue, but it was very good.

Marvel also published a Spanish edition of this issue with the Max Ride fragment replaced by ten pages of Secret Wars #0 by Jonathan Hickman and Paul Renaud. I can’t speak to this Spanish edition of Secret Wars, but the English language version of the same material was not to my taste. I’ll have more to sat about Secret Wars - but not much more - in a day or two.


Boogie Troll/Drone/Agent 42 [Red 5 Comics] was a mixed bag. Boogie Troll “is a fuzzy little grump who wants to be big and scary, but is doomed to be cute and cuddly.” Written and drawn by Jay Fosgitt, the 16-page story is great fun. I’m going to see if I can get the first trade from my local library. If not, I’ll probably stick it on my Amazon wish list until I start making some decent money once again. Which will be after I finish writing my memoir of sorts, but that’s not pertinent to this review.

I wasn’t impressed by Drone, a near-future tale of military robots. Despite the indicia title, there is no “Agent 42" in this book. In its place is four pages of something called Creature Academy, which also failed to impress. I can’t see anyone buying those two titles based on the material in this free comic book.


And Then Emily Was Gone [ComixTribe] didn’t do much for me either. The title feature involves a police detective, a missing girl and some sort of demons. The second story stars a brutal killer called Oxymoron. Great name, uninteresting story. This might attract the attention of people who like their comics more weird than anything else, but I don’t think it would be a success with the majority of the Free Comic Book Day civilians.


From Dark Horse, Free Comic Book Day 2015 All Ages delivers three short stories. Avatar the Last Airbender comes from the Nickelodeon cartoon series and is the cover feature. It’s a nice little story by writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Carla Speed McNeil. It isn’t a comic I’d buy, but it’s very well done and accessible to even me who never watched the cartoon.

Plants Vs. Zombies is based on a video game and that doesn’t speak to me at all. But it’s got good writing by Paul Tobin and good art by Ron Chan in a story that is accessible to new readers and would likely get some of those new readers to buy the comics.

Saving the best for last, we get a new Bandette story by Tobin and artist Colleen Coover. Bandette is a delightful young woman and a master thief. The two Bandette collections published to date have been outstanding and among my favorites of recent years. This is a quality story, very accessible and, if I had my way, every person who reads it in this free comic book will immediately buy those two collections. I love Bandette.


Bob’s Burgers [Dynamite] presented seven comics stories or related material based on the animated series. I enjoyed the variety of so many creators doing so many different things and was entertained by the contents. I give it points for quality and, since I was able to enjoy the comic book despite never having seen the show, I give it points for accessibility.

Will this free comic book entice readers to buy the ongoing comic book and watch the TV series? I think that’s entirely possible. I don’t see myself buying the comic at this point, but I’ll certainly see if any collections of the comic are available via my library. If I’m on the right mood, I might even watch an episode of the TV show.  I’d rate this free comic book a success.


The Tick: Free Comic Book Day 2015 [New England Comics] seems like something I’ve read before and didn’t find at all memorable. There are three stories by Jeff McClelland with art by Duane Redhead and they were all just kind of there.

This free comic book, which wasn’t very good, strikes me as a way for the publisher to try to sell back issues and trade paperback reprints. There’s no background on the characters and no indication that any new material is being created or published. As free comic book day issues go, this one is a failure.


There were two Free Comic Book Day issues from IDW: Transformers: Robots in Disguise and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I confess I’ve always been confused by and disinterested in the Transformers. This free comic didn’t change that. I suspect fans of the show will be far more interested in the ongoing comic books than I am, but they were probably buying the comics anyway.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles giveaway is much better. It has a 20-page story from the current continuity that does a terrific job bringing a new reader up to speed while providing some good action scenes. It’s not my cup of tea, but it’s quality work, accessible to new readers and sure to interest fans of the Turtles. This one is a successful FCBD issue.


Th3rdWorld offered a Thanatos Diver/The Stuff of Legend flipbook. One is science fiction and the other is fantasy.

Thanatos Diver is written by Nick Tapalansky and illustrated by Alex Eckman-Lawn. The 12-page excerpt from a forthcoming graphic novel is intriguing, but doesn’t give a lot of background information. There’s a full-page directing readers to a Thantos Diver website, but, when it comes to Free Comic Book Day issues, I’m old school. I think the issue should tell a prospective new reader everything he or she needs to know to get a foot in the door without having to go online.

The Stuff of Legend is a fun fantasy about devoted toys on a quest to rescue their beloved master. Written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith with art by Charles Paul Wilson III, I liked this snippet of story well enough to get the first graphic novel of the series from my library. I think it’s third from the top of my library reading pile.

This is an okay Free Comic Book Day issue. It’s not a huge success, but it’s not a failure either.


FCBD 2015: Valiant 25th Anniversary Special celebrates a milestone goal reached by the company. There are small chunks of story from Bloodshot: Reborn, Ninjak and X-O Manowar: Dead Hand as well as a number of anniversary text pieces. I liked everything in this free comic, but it struck me as directed more towards existing Valiant fans than new ones. Which sort of defeats what I think is the key purpose of FCBD giveaways: attracting new readers.


Our last FCBD issue for today is from Zenescope: Grimm Fairy Tales presents Wonderland Free Comic Book Day 2015. It’s the thinnest of the giveaways I received, just 16 pages and that includes covers. The issue has a sexy cover of the kind Zenescope is known for and a helpful “The Story So Far” stuff on the inside front cover.

“A Mother Knows Best” is a complete 12-page story by writer Erica J. Heflin with art by Tony Brescini. It’s a well-done little tale, but it’s not a grabber. I wouldn’t seek out issues or collections of Wonderland after reading it. Your mileage may vary.

That’s all for today. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. Tony, the Red 5 troll's name is Bodie, not Boogie. I enjoyed the story as much as you did.