Tuesday, February 8, 2022

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2021: Part Three


Welcome to part three of my 2021 Free Comic Book Day reviews. My pals at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey send me these FCBD comics so I can read and write about them in the bloggy thing. On three occasions, I have reached my goal of reading and writing about all the FCBD comics from a given year. The quest begins anew.

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.

Zom 100: Bucket list of the Dead [Viz] is a strange series about an unhappy salary man who gets a new lease of life because of a zombie apocalypse. Written by Haro Aso with art by Kotaro Takata, the 16-page excerpt is fun and fast-moving, two things I never thought I would say about a zombie comic book. Also featured in this issue is a 15-page excerpt from Koyoharu Gotouge’s Demon Slayer.

QUALITY: Zom 100 made me laugh. The hero goes from wondering how he is going to get to work on time because of the zombie apocalypse to realize he never had to go to work again in two pages. Since he’s gonna die eventually, he wants to fulfill his 100-item bucket list before he kicks the bucket. More please.

The Demon Slayer excerpt doesn’t offer a good sample of the series. I reviewed the first volume of the series last year. If this sort of series interests you, you can get more information by checking out that bloggy thing.

ACCESSIBILITY: Zom 100 is completely accessible. The Demon Slayer excerpt not so much.

SALESMANSHIP: Okay. There’s an interior ad for the first volumes of both series while the back cover ad presents another five series.

SCORE: Nine points out of a possible ten points.


The Unfinished Corner [Wonderbound] presents excerpts from a trio of comics. The 18-page excerpt from the title series is written by Dani Colman with art by Rachel “Tuna” Petrovicz. In it, a group of Jewish students take a trip on a magic school bus because an angel needs their help.

“Wrassle Castle” (5 pages) is by Colleen Cover and Paul Tobin with art by Galaad. It seems to be some sort of medieval fantasy wherein a young woman defeats a monstrous wrestlers with her superior moves and a villain recruits criminals for doubtless villainous things.

“Verse” by Sam Beck (also 5 pages) has someone lost in the woods who meets someone else in the woods with no explanation as to why either of them is there.

QUALITY: The writing and art in the first excerpt is pretty good, save for some confusing elements in the early pages. The same can be said for the second excerpt, but it doesn’t offer clarity as to what its setting is. The third isn’t badly written or drawn, but it doesn’t hook the reader.

ACCESSIBILITY: Goes from decent to kinda of okay to non-existent. Most of the time I was lost.

SALESMANSHIP: Poor. No house ads for any of these series. Just the last panels copy saying the stories are continued in the upcoming issues.

SCORE: Five points out of a possible ten points.


I don’t normally consider the covers when I’m reviewing FCBD comic books, but I have to give the 10 Tons of Fun Preview [10 Ton Press] a point for its nostalgia-inspiring cover. I don’t know if the fans at the FCBD event I attended understood, but the cover evoked the covers of the 1960s Marvel Collectors' Item Classics. Those comics, reprinting the earliest stories of the Fantastic Four and others, always got my attention and my money.

Inside the issue, there are excerpts from four series. Red Dawn is a super-hero strip. Pat McCormick’s Charley and Humphrey is a wild funny animal strip. Fight is a rock-and-roll biography of the band. Becoming Frankenstein tells tales of the people whose parts made the Frankenstein Monster.

QUALITY: Red Dawn is the best of these excerpts, solid writing and art with a heroine with a welcome moral code. Charley and Humphrey isn’t as refined, but does provide some laughs. Fight is very wordy with uninteresting art; it’s probably only of interest to fans of bands and musicians like this. Becoming Frankenstein is choppy, but the premise is intriguing.

ACCESSIBILITY: Red Dawn is easy to get into. The other strips are okay in this regard.

SALESMANSHIP: Not good. Outside of final panel nods to the ongoing Red Dawn and Becoming Frankenstein series, there’s no promotion of the included titles.

SCORE: Seven points out of a possible ten points.


Rent-A-(Really Shy!) Girlfriend [Kodansha] has a 25-page excerpt of the manga by Reiji Miyajima. It’s a sequel to his hit series Rent-A-Girlfriend in which a young lady with a personality order sets a goal of going to a shop and enjoying an amazing angel french donut. It’s backed up by just a few pages of A School Frozen in Time from Naoshi Arakawa and Mizuki Tsujimura.

QUALITY: The Miyajima excerpt is well-written and well-drawn, but this seems like a pretty thin character and situation to hang the series on. What little we get of A School Frozen in Time has less-than-adequate storytelling and doesn’t last long enough for me to get a feel for the manga.

ACCESSIBILITY: The main story is easy to follow. The back-up story excerpt is not at all inviting for a new reader.

SALESMANSHIP: Barely adequate. There’s one interior ad for Rent-A-(Really Shy!) Girlfriend while the back cover of the comic promotes A School Frozen in Time.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS: I’m showing the back cover because seeing it made me interested in the manga. It’s intriguing and, if this free  issue had include more of the series, I might have sought out the three volumes currently available. As it is, I’m on the fence as to whether or not I’ll check out A School Frozen in Time.

SCORE: Five points out of a possible ten points.

That’s all for now. Look for more of my Free Comic Book Day reviews in the near future.  

© 2022 Tony Isabella

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