Wednesday, October 9, 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.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Firefly [Boom! Studio] has a rating of “T” for teens. It contains an eight-page Firefly excerpt by Greg Pak and Ethan Young; a nine-page Buffy excerpt by Jordie Bellaire, Dan Mora and Serg Acuna that leads into a Buffy/Angel crossover; and a five-page preview to Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 by Bellaire and Mora. There are also house ads for these and other Boom titles.

QUALITY: Okay. I confess Boom’s take on the Buffy and Angel comics doesn’t excite me in the least. The Firefly excerpt was well-done, but I haven’t followed Firefly since the TV series ended. I’m just not feeling it anymore.

ACCESSIBILITY: So-so. I haven’t a clue what the back story of the Firefly excerpt is. I kind of sort of have a clue what the Buffy material is about, but more information would have been helpful for me and other readers.

SALESMANSHIP: Okay. Lots of house ads, but most of them don’t tell you much if anything about the various titles.

SCORE: Four points out of a possible ten points.


H1 Ignition [Humanoids] certainly has a lot of high profile comics creators associated with its Free Comic Book Day offering. The top billing goes to Mark Waid, followed by John Cassaday, Carla Speed McNeil and over two dozen other creators following them. The issue leads with an 11-page excerpt from Ignited. There are articles on six other titles, a couple of them including some pages from those titles.

QUALITY: High. I would have liked more pages for the lead feature and the other six, but what was there was enough to make me want to at least check out the Humanoids titles.

ACCESSIBILITY: Pretty good. The Ignited excerpt had enough info to give me a fair idea of its universe. The other features had enough to make me want to know more. I never felt lost.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. As I said above, I want to know more about all seven titles. Mission accomplished.

SCORE: Ten points out of a possible ten points.


Joe Benitez’s Lady Mechanika [Benitez Productions] is a steampunk saga set in turn of the century England and other lands. Its title heroine is the lone survivor of mad science experiments that left her with mechanical limbs. Lacking any memories of her life before and during her captivity, the courageous young woman has become a private investigator. If that sounds familiar, it’s because I wrote it the last time I reviewed a Free Comic Book Day issue featuring this character.

Like that earlier issue, this issue leads off with “The Demon of Satan’s Alley,” a prelude tale to Mechanika’s adventures. The issue also has excerpts from two other Mechanika books: The Clockwork Assassin and La Bells Dame Sans Merci. My earlier comments on this series still apply.

QUALITY: I’m not a steampunk afficionado, but the stories represent some first-class comics storytelling. I like the lead character and the mysteries surrounding her. I like the setting and the gorgeous art and colors. I think I need to read more.

Addendum: I’m embarrassed to confess I have not read more of this series. This time around, I hope to change that. I’ll be checking ClevNet, a consortium of around a hundred of area libraries, to see if any of those libraries have the series.

ACCESSIBILITY: Excellent. The back cover gives a concise history of  Lady Mechanika and the prelude story and the excerpts are easy to get into.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. There are a lot of Lady Mechanika comics and graphic novels available right now. A series of house ads could serve as a Lady Mechanika checklist.

SCORE: Ten points out of a possible ten points.

Treasury of British Comics Presents Funny Pages [Rebellion] appears to be a collection of one-to-four-page reprints from the British comics weekly Buster. That’s just a guess on my part since that’s never made clear in this FCBD issue.

QUALITY: I get a kick out of the quirky British humor weeklies. I thought most of the strips were pretty good, though some were too small to be read easily. The typical British comics weekly of years past was magazine size and the pages didn’t reduce as well as I’d have liked.

ACCESSIBILITY: If you don’t know anything about the British comics weeklies, you’ll probably be confused by the stories in this issue. There’s no appreciable background information on any of the strips.

SALESMANSHIP: Poor. There is a one-page house ad that plugs some of Rebellion’s collections of older comics, but it doesn’t give much information on what they are and how to get them.

SCORE: Three points out of a possible ten points.

I have one more Free Comic Book Day column to write. Not only will I accomplish my goal of reviewing all this year’s offerings before I receive the Halloween giveaway comics, but it will mark only the second time since I started this blog that I actually got through all the FCBD issues. Woo to the hoo!

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

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