Friday, June 9, 2017


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

Free Comic Book Day happens but once a year. Every year, good old Bloggy Tony gets all the FCBD issues from his friends at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. Then he tries to read and review  all of them. He judges those individual issues on three criteria:

QUALITY: Is the material worthwhile?

ACCESSIBILITY: Is the material presented in such a way that someone coming to it for the first time can follow it?

SALESMANSHIP: After reading the FCBD offering, would someone want to buy more of the same?

On a scale of zero to ten, each of those criteria is worth up to three points. Tony awards the elusive tenth point when he deems a FCBD offering particularly worthy. 
Let the judging continue...

Captain Canuck Year One #1 [Chapterhouse] reboots a Canadian super-hero many consider a classic. The inside front cover introduction by co-writer Jay Baruchel goes on about how exciting it is to work on this character, how great something called the “Chapterverse” is going to be and how saving Canadian comics is a sacred endeavor. That’s followed by a combination “what has gone before” and credits page, which, in turn, is followed by a sixteen-page snippet of the first of three books which comprise Captain Canuck Year One.

The issue’s centerfold shows a bunch of people relaxing at what I’m guess in some sort of lodge. Across the bottom of this centerfold are the logos of what I assume are the seven titles that will make up the afore-mentioned “Chapterverse.”

After full-page ads for Captain Canuck and Die Kitty Die, we get an eight-page Kitty vignette by Dan Parent and Fernando Ruiz. The back cover is the ever-present ad for the new Pirates of the Carribean movie, just to remind us that, against all that’s holy, Johnny Depp keeps getting cast in movies. Why are we being persecuted?

QUALITY: The Captain Canuck pages are a convoluted and over-written exercise with too many characters and not enough clarity as to what is going on there. The Kitty pages don’t do justice to one of the most fun and self-referential comics series in recent memory; they come off as an exercise in how many thinly-disguised parodies the creators can stick into eight pages. The Kitty segment suffers as a result of this conceit.

ACCESSIBILITY: The Captain Canuck segment does have helpful “what has gone before” material. The introduction and centerfold simply make me go “Huh?” The Kitty segment doesn’t do a good job telling new readers who the character is and what her world is like...and I will say again that the actual Die Kitty Die series is one of my recent comics favorites.

SALESMANSHIP: If a reader does like either Captain Canuck or Kitty after reading this FCBD giveaway, said reader will be aware there’s more of them to be had. If the reader really likes them, they may want to sample the titles listed on the centerfold.

SCORE: Four out of ten points.


The Incal [Humanoids] presents the first 26 pages of the graphic novel by multi-talented director and writer Alejandro Jodorowsky and comics legend Jean “Mobius” Gerard. Private investigator John Difool comes into the possession of a mysterious, powerful device. Wild adventures ensue. This graphic novel is the cornerstone of the Jodoverse, a shared universe that encompasses a great many planets, characters and stories.

QUALITY: This graphic novel is legendary with good reason. It’s a complex story but it’s also a somewhat typical private eye story. It’s well written with intriguing players and eye-opening graphics. Almost every page reveals something new and incredible about its future setting.

ACCESSIBILITY: The inside front cover is a terrific lead-in to The Incal. The 26 pages grab the readers and keep them in this story. Complex as it is, it’s easier to follow than many comics from major publishers.

SALESMANSHIP: There is a plethora of information about the graphic novels that make up the Jodoverse. If a reader likes what they saw here, they’ll have no trouble finding other books in the universe.

SCORE: Ten out of ten points.


Scott Westerfield’s Spill Night [First Second] is a prequel to the  New York Times bestselling author’s graphic novel Spill Zone. His prose novels include the Uglies series and the Leviathan series. This prequel and the graphic novel are drawn by Alex Puvilland, who works for Dreamworks Animation.

As explained in Westerfield’s foreword, the graphic novel is set in the aftermath of an unexplained event that destroyed a small city in upstate New York. Older sister Addison cares for her little sis, providing for them by taking photos of the strange phenomena in the off limits city. The kid sister has a doll that is something more than a doll.

QUALITY: This is fairly solid storytelling. The transition between the night of the event and the now is a little shaky, but that was my only problem with this issue.

ACCESSIBILITY: “Unexplained” means the reader isn’t getting all the answers to what’s going on in this story. Given that, I think this prequel is very accessible to a new reader.

SALESMANSHIP: High marks. Besides a full-page ad for Spill Zone, we get a page showing the covers of eight other First Second comics. If a reader liked this free comic, they might consider checking out the Spill Zone graphic novel and these other books. That’s how it worked for me. Best of all, there’s no back cover ad for Pirates of the Caribbean: Make It Stop.

SCORE: Nine out of ten points.

Hilda’s Back [Nobrow Press] contains a 10-page segment of a Hilda story by Luke Pearson and a 12-page segment of Garbage Night by Jen Lee.

Hilda is an adventurous girl who’s appeared in five books and will be appearing on Netflix next year. This issue’s segment tells of a previous adventure and introduces a new story in which Hilda’s been changed into a troll and switched with a troll-baby who now looks human. There’s a two-page map of the Stone Forest where this tale takes place.

Garbage Night is set a post-apocalyptic wasteland where a group of young animals try to survive by scavenging supermarkets left from before. If there were humans in their lives - and that seems to be the case - those humans are no longer around.

QUALITY: Some scenes drag, but the writing and art fits these two series and is consistently good.

ACCESSIBILITY: Hilda is a bit easier to follow than Garbage Night - mostly because we don’t get any real details on life before that feature’s apocalypse - but both strips are very accessible to new readers.

SALESMANSHIP: Decent. While the issue isn’t clear on when or where Hilda’s story will continue, the back cover shows five Hilda books and also has an announcement that Garbage Night is coming in June. The centerspread shows fifteen other books from the publisher. I’m going to check some of them out.

SCORE: Seven out of ten.

The Loud House [Papercutz] is the comics version of the Nickelodeon show. Lincoln Loud is the middle child and only boy in a family of eleven children. The series debuted in May, 2016, and has been one of the top rated animated series on TV since that debut. The show’s creator Chris Sovino drew the cover and wrote two of the stories in this free comic book. I reviewed the first Loud House graphic album last month and you can read my comments here.

Full disclosure: Papercutz is one of my clients. For their graphic albums adapting The Garfield Show, I do the script restorations and write sometimes considerable additional dialogue. That relationship doesn’t have any bearing on my reviews, but I always like to tell my readers about such things.

QUALITY: The Loud House is a show I wish I had time to watch on a regular basis. It’s funny and well-done. The comics stories in this FCBD issue are much shorter than those on the series - some of them are basically gag strips - but they are also funny and well-done.

ACCESSIBILITY: The first interior page shows all eleven Loud kids. When the stories in this issue require it, their personalities are delineated. Even if a reader has never seen the TV series, they’ll be able to follow the comics book just fine.

SALESMANSHIP: The issue has seven pages of house ads showing well over a dozen different Papercutz books. The ads can serve as a list of Papercutz books a reader might want to check out.

SCORE: Ten out of ten points.

I’ll be back next Friday with another installment of my Free Comic Book Day round-up reviews.

I’ll be back on Monday with updates on my first Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale of the summer. It’s scheduled for June 16-17 from 9 am to noon.

In the meantime, have a happy and safe weekend.

© 2017 Tony Isabella


  1. Actually, the new Pirates movie is pretty enjoyable.

  2. I heard that too, but with so many other action flicks to see, I'm not taking my chances.