Saturday, August 10, 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...

Hope by Dirk Manning and K. Lynn Smith [Source Point Press]. Dirk is a friend of mine; I wanted to state that up front because I am a full disclosure kind of reviewer. He normally writes horror comics. Here Dirk writes a 22-page story introducing his first super-hero creation.

QUALITY: This is one of the best of the Free Comic Book Day issues. While the story certainly touches upon the unease with which your average folks and average law enforcement agents react to supers in so many other comics, Dirk and K. Lynn have come up with some fresh takes on that basic situation. I liked it a lot.

ACCESSIBILITY: This is the first issue of an ongoing series. It has every thing a reader needs to know to get into and enjoy this first Hope tale.

SALESMANSHIP: Almost perfect. Dirk’s editorial talks about how Hope came to be. What the issue doesn’t do is tell us where we can find more Hope. Other house ads promote other comics; they are nice ads but a little more information would have been helpful.

SCORE: Nine out of ten points.


Interceptor Issue One [Vault Comics] is by Donny Cates with artist Dylan Burnett [Vault Comics]. It’s a combination of hi-tech super-hero, space colonies and future vampires. The 24-page comics story is by Cates, Burnett, letterer Taylor Esposito, and story editor Seamus Martin.

QUALITY: It’s a well-written story, albeit more than a little heavy with the plot background and the science explanations. We don’t get as much insight into the lead character as I’d have liked. The art was good.

ACCESSIBILITY: Mostly accessible, though the heaviness I mentioned above demands concentration and maybe Cliff Notes.

SALESMANSHIP: Good. It has a house ad for the Interceptor collected edition, followed by one for Reactor, which seems to continue the story from Interceptor. More coverage of other Vault Comics titles is lacking.

SCORE: Six out of the points.

Next up is Valiant: Bloodshot FCBD Special [Valiant]. Bloodshot is my favorite of the company’s characters, narrowly edging out Faith. This issue has a 12-page prologue to a new Bloodshot series by Tim Seeley with artist Tomas Giorello, an interview with Seeley, an 8-page prelude to Fallen World by Dan Abnett with artist Juan Jose Ryp, an interview with Abnett and an interview with Fred Van Lente on the forthcoming Psi-Lords series.

QUALITY: The Bloodshot story is terrific. The interviews are very informative. The Fallen World prelude is well-done, but, I’m not a huge fan of future versions of comics characters.

ACCESSIBILITY: I had no difficulties following these two stories. Valiant writing has always been very welcoming to new readers and these tales are no exception.

SALESMANSHIP: Good. There is no much story/interview content that there isn’t a lot of room for house ads. But there are some, one of them for what appears to be a Valiant Universe app.

SCORE: Nine out of ten. 

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Striker Force [Graphic India] turns the world-famous soccer player into a super-hero. The issue presents his 21-page origin story and several pages of concept art.

QUALITY: Despite the contrivance of Ronaldo’s super-powers deriving from his skill at kicking a ball-like power-sapping device, I was mightily entertained by this story. It was well-written with lively art and, most of all, it was big fun. I’ll be looking for it in the Previews catalog.

ACCESSIBILITY: I got right into the characters. Everything I needed  to know was in the writing and art. Well done.

SALESMANSHIP: The back cover had a photo of Ronaldo and his comics counterpart with a quote about why this project appeals to him. It may not be an ad per se, but it’s effective.

SCORE: Ten out of ten points.


Wolfie Monster and the Big Bad Pizza Battle by writer/artist Joey Ellis [Scholastic] features a 28-page excerpt from a graphic novel aimed at younger readers.

QUALITY: It’s a clever character and concept, but the execution is shaky. The plot meanders, the writing is so-so and the art, well, I found it uninteresting.

ACCESSIBILITY: If the story was more solid, the characters and the situations would have more clear and inviting.

SALESMANSHIP: Decent. The inside front and back covers have ads for other Scholastic graphic novels. The back cover has an ad for the Wolfie Monster graphic novel.

SCORE: Four out of ten points.


CBLDF Presents Defend Comics [Comic Book Legal Defense Fund] is an anthology featuring excerpts from five graphic novels: Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen; Apocalypse Taco by Nathan Hale; Nobody’s Fool by Bill Griffith; A Fire Story by Brian Fies; and bags (or a Story Thereof) by Patrick McHale and Gavin Fullerton.

QUALITY: Mixed. A Fire Story is the best of the books excerpted in this anthology. Pilu is interesting and well-crafted. Apocalypse Taco is so-so. Nobody’s Fool is a graphic memoir I’ll read soon. Bags is intriguing, but I’m on the fence as to whether or not it’s any good.

ACCESSIBILITY: Also mixed. Apocalypse Taco is undecipherable. Bags is a little rough. The others are easy to get into.

SALESMANSHIP: So-so. There’s barely any information on the CBLDF, which I would think would have been the point of the Fund doing a Free Comic Book Day issue. It’s also not clear if these excerpts are excerpts - I assume they are - and nothing to indicate where an interested reader can find the rest of the stories.

SCORE: Four out of ten points.

More Free Comic Book Day reviews to come. I’ll return tomorrow with the lowdown on my next convention appearance. See you then.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the "Hope" review Tony. I've ordered copies of issues 1-2 as a result of reading this.