Friday, June 7, 2019


Free Comic Book Day is like Comic-Book Christmas. Held the first Saturday every May, it’s when participating comics shops across North America and around the world give away specially-produced comic books absolutely free to anyone who comes into their shops. On that wondrous day, most shops run terrific sales and many bring in special guests (comics creators, cosplayers and more) to add to the celebration.

This year, over fifty Free Comic Book Day issues were prepared by  publishers. They ranged from Doctor Who, Deadly Class and Avengers to My Hero Academia, Bob’s Burgers and Lumberjanes. My friends at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey sent all those comics to me so I could read and write about them in this bloggy thing of mine. Only once have I reached my goal of reading and writing about all the FCBD comics available in one year. Maybe this year is the year I finally repeat that achievement. Wish me luck.

When I read and review FCBD comics, I look at three areas.

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 and be able to buy more of the same?

I score FCBD offerings on a scale of zero to ten. Each category is worth three points with the tenth point coming from my interest in seeing more of what’s ever in the book.

Let’s begin...

Dear Justice League was my first encounter with DC Zoom, DC’s new “middle grade” imprint. The digest-sized comic contained chapters from the upcoming graphic novel by the New York Times bestselling author Michael Northrop with art by Gustavo Duarte. The background of these and presumable the graphic novel’s other chapters are the Justice League members getting and responding to texts from their young fans.

QUALITY: The Superman chapter is hilarious. Superman is asked if he has ever messed up and, in thinking about it, proceeds to “mess up” in humorous ways. The Hawkgirl chapter is okay, but not up to the quality of the Superman chapter.

ACCESSIBILITY: Yes. The characters are well known enough that any casual reader will be able to follow and enjoy this graphic novel.

SALESMANSHIP: High marks. Besides an ad for Dear Justice League, we get ads for Teen Titans Go collections, a new Super Sons graphic novel, the ongoing Scooby-Doo Team-Up comic book, the ongoing Teen Titans Go comic book, and the new Super Hero Girls animated series.

SCORE: Ten out of ten points.


Next up was the digest-size Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Myracle with Isaac Goodhart on the art. This is from the DC Ink imprint aimed at readers a little older than DC Zoom. We get 20 pages of the Under the Moon graphic novel and a six-page preview of Teen Titans Raven by New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia and artist Gabriel Picolo.

QUALITY: Disappointedly low. The Salina Kyle in the Catwoman part of the comic doesn’t ring true; she’s this poor set-upon teenager living with a subservient mother and that mother’s brute boyfriend. Myracle learned how to write comics from two online tutorials and her lack of skill bears that out. It’s just a mess and something I can easily pass on. As for the Raven excerpt, it’s only marginally better, though maybe a longer and less confusing excerpt might have raised my opinion of it.

ACCESSIBILITY: The Catwoman excerpt is accessible, but, as noted, not good. The Raven excerpt is not accessible.

SALESMANSHIP: Decent use of the advertising pages. The inside front cover pitches the forthcoming Johnny Quest: The Complete Original Series on Blu-Ray. There are full-page ads for Under the Moon and Teen Titans Raven on the off-chance that a reader found themselves wanting more of those graphic novels. There’s two-page ad for DC Ink’s Mera: Tidebreaker graphic novel, which I found readable but unremarkable. There’s a DC Nation text feature on the creators of Under the Moon. There’s an inside back cover ad for the Super Hero Girls animated series. There’s a back cover had for a quarter of YA prose novels featuring Batman, Catwoman, Superman and Wonder Woman.

SCORE: 4.5 out of ten points.


No more digests for a bit. Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor [Titan Comics] is the first of the full-sized Free Comic Book Day issues I read. I am a huge-but-sadly-lapsed fan of Doctor Who. I’m several years behind in watching the TV series. That said, I’m planning to skip over those years for now to start watching the adventures of the first female Doctor.

QUERY: Do the people of Gallifrey experience gender as we know it, however imperfectly, here on Earth? We’ve seen indications they are sexual beings, but, gender and sexuality aren’t necessarily the same thing. I may have to research this.

Back to the review...

QUALITY: Good. This issue has a 16-page story by writer Jody Houser and artist Giorgia Sposito. Though it’s on the slight side, it does  a decent job introducing the cast of characters and introducing the basic concepts of the Doctor, her companions, the Tardis and their adventures, explorations and battles against evil.

ACCESSIBILITY: Excellent. The story is prefaced by a page showing all the characters and the Tardis. Combined with the story itself, a new reader will have a smooth entry into this series.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. The inside front cover showcases the fine Doctor Who swag available via the BBC Shop. There’s an unrelated-to-Doctor-Who ad for Fathom Events which includes for reasons that escape me, a special showing of The Giant Spider Invasion. After the story, there’s a double-page “Reader’s Guide” showcasing the covers of a Tardis-load of Doctor Who trade paperbacks. There are a great many of them. The back cover pitches the first collection of the comics featuring the Thirteenth Doctor. I’m looking forward to reading those issues.

SCORE: Eight out of ten points.

I’m posting this the morning of today’s garage sale, so that’s all for now. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

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