Friday, June 14, 2019


What Has Gone Before:

I’m reading and reviewing the Free Comic Book Day comic books sent to me by my pals at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. 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. 
We begin with...

Disney’s Descendants: Dizzy’s New Fortune [Toykopop]. Made for TV, the Descendants movies feature the teenage children of four Disney villains. The villains live on the Isle of the Lost, but their kids are allowed to attend school on Auradon. There have been three of these movies and, despite my best intentions, I have not yet seen any of them. Would this free comic book make me want to binge-watch them as soon as possible?

QUALITY: The 23-page story is poorly written. If you don’t know the characters, you get no good clues as to who they are, what they’re all about or what’s happening in this story. I wasn’t enthusiastic about the manga-style art either.

ACCESSIBILITY: Total fail. As I said, the story doesn’t welcome me into this world. I read it twice to see if I was somehow missing details that would have changed that. I wasn’t. Those details were not there.

SALESMANSHIP: Better than the story. There’s an advertisement for the full Dizzy’s New Fortune graphic novel. That’s followed by an ad for Fathom Events, which includes some anime movies. We get four pages of ads (including the back cover) for other Disney and Pixar manga. There’s an ad directing readers to the Disney Manga portion of the Tokyopop website.
SCORE: Three out of ten points.


Deadly Class: Killer Set by Rick Remender and Wes Craig [Image] has a 17-page story set in the early days of protagonist Marcus Lopez’s time at Kings Dominion. If you’ve read the Deadly Class comics or watched the TV series on the Syfy channel, you know Kings Dominion is training the next generation of assassins.

QUALITY: The story is a dense done-in-one story focusing on Viktor, Marcus’s enemy and fellow student. It’s well-written with intricate art. On my first attempt to read Deadly Class, shortly after I saw the first TV episode, I couldn’t get into the series. However, this story was good enough that I’ll likely give it another shot in the near future.

ACCESSIBILITY: The inside front cover features “The Story So Far” and that brought me up to as much speed as I needed to follow this FCBD story. Remender’s writing kept me in the loop and artist Craig did a good job differentiating the characters.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. There’s an ad for the TV series, followed by an ad for the dollar-priced Image Firsts first issue reprints and the first trade paperback values whose prices start at $9.99. A two-page spread advertises Reminder’s other trade paperbacks and a second spread showcases all the Deadly Class volumes. Other ads pitch Wes Craig and Toby Cypress’ The Grave Diggers Union, Remender and Greg Tocchini’s The Last Days of American Crime (soon to be a Netflix feature film), the just-released Deadly Class Volume Eight and various Image Classics titles.

SCORE: Ten out of ten points.


Spider-Man/Venom #1 [Marvel] has two 10-page stories. Though this isn’t explicitly stated, they seem like brand-new stories done for this Free Comic Book Day issue. The Venom story is by Donny Cares with artists Ryan Stegman and JP Mayer. The Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man/Miles Morales: Spider-Man story is by Saladin Ahmed and Tom Taylor with artists Cory Smith and Jay Leisten.

QUALITY: Though I’ve never been fond of Venom, I have been reading good things about Cates’ work on Eddie Brock. [I have requested his first Venom volume from my local library character.] This story is a lead-in to something called Absolute Carnage and reveals, to me, at least, the chilling bit of business that anyone who has worn a symbiote still carries a piece of it inside them. That’s one scary notion.

The Spider-Men story is a lighthearted competition between Peter and Miles as to where the best pizza can be found. Even the Shocker gets in on the debate. It’s a fun little vignette.

ACCESSIBILITY: The credits page, which, unfortunately, runs after the two stories, gives one-paragraph summations for Brock, Parker and Morales. I was a little lost reading the Venom tale, but found the Spider-Men story very accessible.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. The inside front cover plugs the Cloak and Dagger TV series. A full-page ad for Fathom Events clumsily breaks into the Venom story. There’s a full-page ad for Absolute Carnage, which comes out in August.

The Spider-Men vignette is interrupted several times with ads for Immortal Hulk, House of X/Powers of X, Spider-Man Far from Home and related trade paperbacks, and Journey into Mystery #1, a War of the Realm tie-in. The last page of the story is separated from the rest of the story by three ad pages. Not cool.

There’s a cool double-page spread touting the continuation of “the scariest spider-year ever.” The inside back cover advertises Marvel Select trade paperbacks and the back cover pitches the first Venom trade paperback by Cates.

SCORE: A disappointing six out of ten, mostly because of the truly awful placement of the ads.

If you’re reading this bloggy thing of mine on Friday evening or early Saturday morning, and you live in driving distance of Medina, Ohio, you could visit my latest Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale at 840 Damon Drive in Medina. The hours are 9am to 1pm.  Lots of cool items are bargain prices.

Keep watching the bloggy for more Free Comic Book Day reviews and other columns. I’ll be back soon.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

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