Sunday, May 29, 2016

Review- Free Comic Book Day Offerings Part Three

Free Comic Book Day Offerings Part Three

Cirque Du Soleil: The Complete Collected Edition (Marvel, cover date February, 2015; softcover)

Collects Cirque Du Soleil #1-3

One comic shop that I went to was giving away this skinny trade, which states on the front cover that it is a “Custom Edition” and “Not For Resale”. From what I gathered in the 0.987 minutes that I spent researching it, this was a marketing stunt thought up by the Las Vegas promoters to get a male audience into Cirque Du Soleil. They launched it on Marvel's digital comics site and had some stupid contest. Zero marketing dollars were spent and it resulted in 5,000 Facebook likes for Cirque Du Soleil. That and five bucks will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

It's slick and polished, but as a read it is crap. The story is just plain boring. Still, this dead stock was given away at one shop on FCBD so the only thing that it cost me was the time that it took to read it. I had no interest in Cirque Du Soleil before I read this book and I have no interest in it now.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 1 out of 5.

Skyward/ Fracture Halloween ComicFest Edition (Action Lab Entertainment, cover date October, 2013)
I thought that this was familiar when I read it, and that's because it is. It was dead stock from the Halloween ComicFest 2013 and was given away at Free Comic Book Day 2014, and I already reviewed it here. It gets the same rating from me two years later.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Atlas: Origins #1 (Dave Swartz Art, Kickstarter, cover date 2015)
Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, MI tends to explore the more out there and independent comic books available. While this particular comic book not my cup of tea I do enjoy seeing what is out there in the fringes of the medium from time to time.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Free 2016 (Retrofit/ Big Planet Comics)
Comic books can be anything under the sun. What appeals to some people does not have to appeal to others. While I am admittedly more of a capes and newspaper strips kind of guy there are bits and pieces of this sampler of indie comics that work, particularly Jacob Bladders And The State Of The Art. Not all comics are for everyone. I am okay with that.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 2 out of 5.

BOOM! Studios 2016 Summer Blast (BOOM Studios, cover date May, 2016)
This is a sampling of six different BOOM and Archaia properties. None of them are making me open my wallet, nor were any of them awful.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 2.25 out of 5.

Doctor Who: Free Comic Book Day 2016 (Titan, cover date June, 2016)
It never ceases to amaze me how socially acceptable Doctor Who has become. In my fledgling nerd days in the 1980s even we nerds thought that Doctor Who was for nerds. Times change, and this beloved British icon has made inroads on this side of the Atlantic. My 9 year old son loves Doctor Who. There's a kid at his school who has a Doctor Who backpack for chrissakes. I know nothing about the character but found these short stories to be entertaining.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3 out of 5.

Thursday, May 26, 2016


THE SHIELD: AMERICA'S FIRST PATRIOTIC COMIC BOOK HERO (Red Circle/ Archie, First Printing, 2002; Softcover)

Collects The Shield stories from Pep Comics #1-5 and Shield-Wizard Comics #1 (cover dates January- Summer, 1940)

Writer: Harry Shorten
Artist: Irv Novick

More than a year before that other star-spangled superhero made the scene, The Shield was cracking Nazi skulls and defending liberty from fascists. While the novelty of reading old, obscure, expensive comics has worn off here in the second decade of the Golden Age Of Collected Editions, The Shield remains an entertaining and at times compelling read.

On a purely historical level the character is fascinating. Joe Higgins is a chemist who finishes a secret formula from a fellow chemist who was slain by a Nazi saboteur, using it on himself to fight for America. Sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it? He becomes a G-Man and fights Nazi looking and acting sorts as well as the “Mosconians”, who do a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in a story cover dated May, 1940. I am not sure how many months in advance of the cover dates Golden Age comics were sold, but this story was published more than eighteen months in advance of that attack. I enjoyed another MLJ hero, The Wizard, who had a brief guest appearance here in this story.

The Shield's costume design was ripped off by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, who based Captain America's original shield on it. MLJ (later called Archie Comics) complained and Timely quickly changed Captain America's shield to the iconic Frisbee shaped flag shield.

The stories are above what Timely was doing at this time in terms of quality but a notch below what DC was doing. The Shield does the usual displays of strength and power which were so new to readers of the day. I love the absolute black and white, good versus evil of old comic books. It is a refreshing escape from comic books of today where everything is supposedly so sophisticated. Sometimes it is cool to just see a good guy beat the crap out of bad guys and save the day. All of the stories were equally enjoyable and were well written and drawn. Irv Novick was a comic artist for decades after this, with a career running into the 1990s.

This was a fun read that obviously didn't sell well enough to warrant further volumes, which is a shame because the strip ran until 1948. It would be cool if Archie would revisit it or farm out a series of hardcover Archives to Dark Horse.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.

The OCD zone- I like how the book is as wide as the original comic books. Golden Age comics were wider than comics have been for the last 60 years.

I dislike how there are no creator credits in the Table of Contents.

Linework and Color restoration: The linework looks surprisingly good. I compared this book to many scans I found online and everything looks tight. The original color palette is faithfully maintained, although some of the color blends have a harsh gradient to them not found in the original comic books. Still, this is a top notch restoration job for 2002 and it looks very good even today. I can live with it.

The covers look awful, though. They are scans with no restoration, and look like they were either sourced from microfiche or were low resolution scans of the original comics. Color microfiche was rare but it cannot be ruled out here.
Paper stock: Thick uncoated stock with zero sheen under any light source.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback. It should be noted that there was nary a creak in the binding, and this book is fourteen years old no less. Solid.
Cardstock cover notes: Very thick laminated cardstock.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Review- Free Comic Book Day Offerings Part Two

Free Comic Book Day Offerings Part Two

Free Comic Book Day 2016: Civil War II #1 (Marvel, cover date May, 2016)
Like Marvel's other FCBD offering this year, this book has two stories. The first one is a sneak peek at Civil War II. The original Civil War event was great. This sequel doesn't seem to have anything to do with the original. Instead, it looks like some crossover with Thanos and has the name of Civil War attached to it to ship more units. Think Secret Wars II when compared to the original Secret Wars and you're pretty close.

Brian Michael Bendis writes it, so of course he has swearing in what could have been a good gateway for a young kid discovering the medium on FCBD. Instead, most parents will take this comic away from their kids because of that. Am I really that old-fashioned because I dislike superheroes swearing and don't want my son reading that? It's just so unnecessary. Does anyone actually pick up a comic book because it has swearing in it?

The other story in this book is the story of the new Wasp which leads right into All-New, All-Different Avengers #9, on sale now, which is honestly pretty genius. It is well done. Mark Waid is a good writer who gets it. He has written hard-edged adult stuff but has enough common sense to keep his superhero stuff accessible to everyone. That is because Waid is a pro who gets it.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.75 out of 5.

Micronauts #1 (IDW, cover date April, 2016)
Like ROM, Micronauts has been in licensing Limbo for some time, although Image did an attempt at it in the Aughts. Also like ROM, Bill Mantlo created so many characters that are owned by Marvel that it makes reprinting the original series impossible by anyone other than Marvel. This was an okay read but it lacked the depth of Micronauts: The New Voyages. I don't think that I will ever be satisfied by anything other than a Marvel reboot of these characters.

And no, this was not a FCBD comic. I paid for this one. I try to pick up something at each store, as the free comics that my kids and I snagged from each store cost the retailer money. I gave this to my son after I read it.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3 out of 5.

Free Comic Book Day 2016: Serenity/ Hellboy/ Aliens (Dark Horse, cover date May, 2016)
I know nothing about Serenity, as I watch very little television. As a comic book, I was lost when reading it. It made no sense to me, as it made no effort to actually introduce new readers to the concept or characters. I don't know much about Hellboy either, but the difference is that Mike Mignola knows how to bring someone fresh off of the street into the fold while the story unfolds. Having legendary Horror artist Richard Corben bring your tale to life doesn't hurt your cause, either. Aliens I know from the movies. The comic is enjoyable, and it seems like it would be a cool read.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3 out of 5.

America's Army #0 (IDW, cover date 2014)
This title is an adaptation of the U.S. Army sanctioned propaganda video game designed to suck impressionable kids into joining the Army. This is readable as a comic in spite of this. While not technically a FCBD comic book, this was passed out by one of the shops I stopped at.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 2.75 out of 5.

Eternal Warrior/ Bloodshot And The Hard C.O.R.P.S. Flip Sketchbook #1 (Valiant, cover date July, 2013)
Another dead stock FCBD giveaway, this is a sketchbook with no story in it.
Junk Food For Thought rating: Inapplicable.

Point One #1 (Marvel, cover date January, 2012)
Yet another dead stock FCBD giveaway. This is basically a sneak previews for forthcoming titles with nine pages of story interspersed, stringing together a story where two invaders infiltrate the Watcher's base on the moon and peer into several events in the near future. The events being previews of forthcoming Marvel Comics. An interesting if unnecessary read. At least I didn't pay $5.99 for it like the cover price states. Cripes. I would be ticked if I blew six bucks on this. For free it was all right though.

Junk Food For Thought rating: 3 out of 5. 

There will be more FCBD reviews in the coming days and weeks.