Thursday, June 20, 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...

Avengers/Savage Avengers #1 [Marvel] was one of the FCBD issues I was most looking forward to reading. During more than one era, the Avengers were my favorite super-hero team. I’ve fallen well behind in reading the main title and was glad for the opportunity to catch up with the team. I also thought Savage Avengers was an outrageous notion, albeit one in which I had a keen interest. This giveaway issue presents a 10-page Avengers tale by Jason Aaron and Stefano Casselli, and a 10-page Savage Avengers story by Gerry Duggan and Mike Dedoato, Jr.

QUALITY: The writing and art in both stories was pretty good. I’d have liked them better if they were more accessible.

ACCESSIBILITY: Frankly awful. There was no “what have gone before” information for either story and that information was not included in either of the two stories in this issue.

SALESMANSHIP: There are lots of advertisements for various Marvel comics and collections: Marvel Rising, The Savage Sword of Conan, trades that tie in to the films, Avengers, Captain America, Thanos, Conan the Barbarian, Savage Avengers, Shuri and War of the Realms. Most of them look interesting enough that I’ll be requesting them from my local library system

SCORE: 5.5 out of a possible ten.

Captain Canuck [Chapterhouse] is yet another revival of the D-list super-hero who has been around in one form or another since 1975. There have been times when it was decently written and times when it was really well-drawn, but it’s never been consistent.

QUALITY: In this Free Comic Book Day edition, Charterhouse attempts to tie past concepts and related characters together in 24 pages of flashback sequences and modern-day vignettes. It’s a mess. It was a struggle to read it the first time and even more so when I gave it a second reading in the hope that maybe I was just in a bad mood or some such when I first read it. No such luck.

ACCESSIBILITY: The brief recap on the inside front cover has white letters on a pale yellow background. It’s barely readable if you’re willing to strain your eyes. The recaps and new comics that follow might mean something if you’re a Captain Canuck fanatic, but I feel they are unaccessible for most readers.

SALESMANSHIP: Good. There are many ads for every Captain Canuck and related collection imaginable. If someone found something of value in the comics pages, they will have no trouble finding (presumably) more of the same.

SCORE: Three out of ten points.

Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World by Iruka Shiomiya [Vertical Comics] rescues today’s column from consisting of entirely negative FCBD reviews. I didn’t know anything about this manga series until I read this issue, but did some quick research.

Some quick notes from Wikipedia...

Kino's Journey is a Japanese light novel series written by Keiichi Sigsawa with illustrations by Kouhaku Kuroboshi. Kino, accompanied by the talking motorcycle Hermes, travels through a mystical world of many different countries and forests, each unique in its customs and people. She spends three days and two nights in every town, without exception, on the principle that three days is enough time to learn almost everything important about a place, while leaving time to explore new lands.

QUALITY: The 32-page excerpt fascinated me from the earliest pages and kept me fascinated through the final pages. I plan to read the rest of the series.

ACCESSIBILITY: Once I got into the story, I was hooked. That said, I didn’t understand what this world is all about and why Kino is traveling through it. The Wikipedia information helped, but I’m still somewhat confused. Hopefully, my further reading will clear things up for me.

SALESMANSHIP: The inside front cover plugs the manga. The first two volumes are now available. The inside back cover promotes Diamond’s Comic Shop Locator website. The back cover plugs the first volume of Go with the Clouds North-by-Northwest. I have read that initial volume and will be reviewing it in the future.

SCORE: Eight out of ten points.


I was at a disadvantage reading Minecraft/Incredibles 2 from Dark Horse Comics. I have never played video games and have no interest in playing video games. Indeed, my only connection to video games is spending the money I get from Black Lightning being part of the Injustice video game.

This FCBD issue has an eight-page Minecraft story, a 12-page tale of the Incredibles and a great many ads for related items. I’m cool with that. Promotion is an important and reasonable part of these free comics. FCBD offers publisher a fantastic means of connecting their books and comics with new customers.

QUALITY: The Minecraft story did nothing for me, but I won’t deduct points for that. That’s more on me than the story.

The Incredibles story was a hoot-and-a-half. A hilarious villain. Mister and Mrs. Incredible trying to have a date night. Their kids trying to make sure that date night goes smoothly. It was a great way of showing the core values of the series. Family, fun, super-hero action.

ACCESSIBILITY: I could have used some background information on the Minecraft story. There was none. There wasn’t much background for the Incredible story, but I think those characters are well known enough to make that less important.

SALESMANSHIP: First rate. There were ads for Minecraft trades and more: books for younger readers, retellings of classic novels with Disney characters, Frozen, books for middle readers, Space Boy, Plants vs. Zombie and Incredibles.

SCORE: Eight out of ten points.

Look for more Free Comic Book Day reviews in the weeks to come.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

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