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Free Comic Book Day 2022

I don’t even remember when Free Comic Book Day started…though I’m thinking offhand it was 2002, making this year’s ‘event’ the 20-year-anniversary, and the 21st FCBD. Buuut I could be off by a year or two; though I vaguely recall my senior year of college (spring 2003) being at least the SECOND FCBD, so…yeah. I could google it I’m sure, but this is an off-the-cuff rambling/stream-of-consciousness post.

As I’m typing this, I’m more or less planning to let this BE my "post for the week," as I don’t have any great expectations of getting the next Eclipso: The Darkness Within issue read AND written up in time; so this first "haul" post since losing Dad will take its place, and I’ll get back to "real" content next week, hopefully!

On to Free Comic Book Day 2022!

Met up with an old friend after too many years–made for some good catching up, shared time, and of course–comics!

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Plenty of other folks have posted stuff on the branded "FCBD" comics, so I’ll skip those.

Took advantage of a couple sales to knock out MOST OF the rest of Uncanny X-Men that I’ve been working on for yeeeeeears. Thanks to this, I’m now–as of this typing and according to my records–only missing #532 from having #s 139-544!

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Happened across these two mini-comics and couldn’t pass them up. I’m sure I had them as a kid, and MIGHT still have them SOMEWHERE (if so, likely in a box of ephemera I haven’t really dipped into since my last move in 2016) but if my originals are indeed lost to time, I knew darned well I’d kick myself for passing them up!

As best I can tell/recall, these would have been pack-ins with the VHS tapes from Pizza Hut in 1993 (1 had the 2-part Night of the Sentinels and 2 had Enter: Magneto and Deadly Reunions–the first four episodes of the X-Men animated series.

On the whole, definitely more than I’d planned to spend for the weekend, but I do feel like it’s helping whittle away at my missing-X stuff, and it’ll be nice to "complete" a phase of Uncanny X-Men. Get that last issue and I’ll pretty much be casually looking for LOW-grade/reader-copy "raw" (non-‘slabbed’) copies of the title, working backward with the Dark Phoenix Saga and then just see how far back I eventually go. It’ll complete my most recent intent of filling in to have #141-the end (544), but having snagged several of the Dark Phoenix issues already, I’m inclined to just keep going back on occasion. As I’m looking for low-grade copies and everyone seems to deal with graded and/or high-grade slabbed stuff, we’ll see what happens!

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Chris Claremont Signing

Falling amidst my lengthy hiatus from blogging, back in August for Free Comic Book Day, Cleveland comic shop Carol and John’s was able to have Chris Claremont out for a meet & signing!

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Plenty of loads of other pieces online can fill you in on Claremont and his importance in a more formal way. But here’s my "story."

I was introduced to the X-Men in 1992. While specific dates and numbers may be slightly off–we’re talking nearly 30 years ago and plenty of life since then, after all–I remember a friend having me borrow an issue of The Uncanny X-Men from him. I don’t remember the story, I don’t remember all the characters…but I do remember his "quizzing" me on the characters after, and as I recall it right now, three of them were "Wolverine," "Bishop," and Storm. As this was likely earlier-’92, and Bishop wasn’t in that first October 1991 issue, this was PROBABLY Uncanny 285 or 286 or so. Move ahead a few months and there was some new cartoon debuting on Fox Kids. Along with watching the couple of episodes there (Night of the Sentinels), this same friend sat me down and we watched an older cartoon episode–Pryde of the X-Men.

…which gave me a bit of deja vu, even then. I recognized it! Turned out that I had seen that one before–some (presumably Saturday-morning) or such, it had been on and I caught it, there was never anything else, so I forgot it. But I clearly remembered that theme song proclaiming "X-Men! X-Men! …come-ing-your-way!"

ALSO in there among stuff, another friend was following the The X-Cutioner’s Song event–the polybagged-with-a-card crossover event in the various X-books. So I was aware of the titles, even though I wasn’t getting them myself. (also late-1992 saw The Death of Superman, Vengeance of Bane and Batman: Sword of Azrael, dabbling in speculation with Bloodshot #0, getting in "at the beginning" with the likes of The Batman Adventures #1, Spider-Man 2099 #s 1-3, Guy Gardner #1, early issues of Batman: Shadow of the Bat and so on. A friend was getting The Infinity War and had some other Marvels so again, I was aware of that side of things.

Probably thanks to Wizard magazine and other promotional stuff as well as friends being interested, plus the cartoon and such, 1993 saw me start getting X-Men comics myself…my first X-Men comic being Uncanny X-Men #300. I initially missed #s 301 and 302 (filling the gap in not long later) but managed to snag each issue from #303-onward. By then had also dabbled in other titles with the Fatal Attractions event (X-Factor #92, X-Force #25, then Uncanny 304 before some time later getting X-Men #25 and Wolverine #75 on the same night….that’s another story).

But by 1994, the X-Men were a "thing" for me, though it was NINETIES’ X-MEN that were my thing. Despite those issues of Uncanny, I’m pretty sure the first issue of X-Men "adjective-less" for me was #24–the Rogue/Gambit date issue. (If you know it, you definitely know the cover!). It wasn’t long after X-Cutioner’s Song, BUT it WAS a couple years removed from the Claremont era.

Fast forward a few more years, and I’d definitely learned OF Days of Future Past. I still have a kids’ chapter-book version of a "novelization" of the story…the only way I got to read the story for a time! Somewhere over the years I got that skinny 2-issue "prestige format" "collection" of Uncanny 141-142. Otherwise, I think my introduction to Claremont‘s stuff was his Sovereign Seven from DC, though I got into that for it being a #1 and a new team…I had no conscious connection of him to X-Men. Ditto later for his run on Fantastic Four in early 1999 or so.

Yet somewhere, somewhen over the years, I made the conscious connection. And came to recognize his run for what it was, and its grand import to comics, and the X-Men, and so on. And some of that probably runs up right to the last few years or so. I’m far more aware OF his work than familiar with it. I’ve yet to read the vaaaaast majority of his X-Men stuff, or really any of his New Mutants (I read the original graphic novel in college 20-ish years ago from the university’s library), or his X-Treme X-Men and such.

And while I hadn’t realized it until a couple years ago…he was in rarified air for me, on the "bucket list" of "people I’d want to have ‘met’" or such. Up there with Stan Lee (‘met’ in 2012), Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Jim Lawson, Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Dan Jurgens


So a couple years ago–I don’t remember exactly when, but I think it was December 2019–when Carol & John’s announced that they’d have Claremont out for Free Comic Book Day 2021, I knew immediately that I’d "have to" be there. I knew by then that he doesn’t make many appearances, I had the impression he was rarely in the US at all (I’m probably highly wrong, there), but to have him at a signing at a store less than an hour’s drive from me…it was an exciting no-brainer!

But then 2020 happened. So the event was pushed off. I won’t get into assumptions/thoughts.

I was glad to hear earlier this year that it was "on" again and made plans to be there.

I didn’t know details or logistics. Floated plans, made tentative plans, but ultimately ended up there by myself.

claremont_signing_0_the_signed_books

Claremont being who he is…I had to go beyond my usual "couple token issues" to get signed. Up until the evening before the event, I wasn’t absolute on what I wanted to get signed.

While I was happy in 2012 to pay the $40 for a photo op with Stan Lee, I’d otherwise never paid more than $5 for a signature…while I may budge on it some, overall I don’t like paying for signatures when it’s stuff for ME or for friends. I get why creators charge, but that’s where I typically fly by "live and let live." If they’re charging what I don’t want to pay, then their signature and meeting them obviously isn’t "worth it" to me for that.

I believe with this signing, the first signature was free, with subsequent ones being $10. Hearing stories of other creators charging upwards of $50+ per…that sounded absolutely fair to me!

I knew I wanted to get Uncanny #142 signed. I’d hunted for–and failed to find–an original #141, so went with a Marvel Legends reprint edition I’d managed to get. Not as good as the original, nor as good as a "facsimile edition" would be, but fit my purposes. I’d acquired #142, and as part of the 2-part Days of Future Past, that was a given…same reason I wanted 141. Then there was #266…Gambit’s first appearance. And while I was at it for Gambit, I’d also snagged Avengers Annual #10, so wanted to get that signed…first appearances of both Gambit and Rogue. But plenty of other stuff. I decided Uncanny X-Men #274–the Savage Land issue with Rogue and Magneto–was a "key" to me with some fair bit of sentimental value. And while I doubt I’ll ever get to, with the possibility of someday also meeting Jim Lee, decided on 1991’s X-Men #1.

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I ended up arriving right about 8:57am or so…noted the time because of some health stuff I was dealing with and having to be sensitive to the time. I believe "the event" was to "start" about 10 or 10:30 and had known going in that getting there early was gonna be important. Even that early, there was already a significant line…but nothing compared to what soon built up behind me!

One of the workers handed me a sign–I was the back of the line, and requested I hand the sign back as others showed. I had the sign for a few seconds before getting to pass it to another, and he to someone else, and no longer a concern to me. Wound up spending the ~3 hours in line with the guys that showed up behind me–Mike and Rob–also there solo. While I wasn’t overly talkative–as an introvert, the entire thing took a lot out of me–it was enjoyable, and interesting, and quite memorable. Just being surrounded by other people whose lives were impacted by the work of one man’s writing!

We got to the head of the line right about Noon…and it was sounding like Claremont was gonna be getting whisked off for a lunch break and such, and I was suspecting that was gonna happen after the family that was juuuuust ahead of us/me. That ended up not being the case, though. I think I’m thankful for that–but caveat being that I certainly hope it was NOT to Mr. Claremont’s detriment!

In the foyer, CNJ had a huge poster/mural up based on the cover of Uncanny X-Men #141, and I was able to get one of the guys to take a couple photos of me with it.claremont_signing_friends_books

Also got to get a photo with the man himself! While not a professional/portrait type thing (as with Mr. Lee in 2012) still a "key" photo of me, for me!

Back to the issues I was getting signed: I had my 6, but also had several issues for friends! As a fellow X fan and friend, while I’d been unsure of what issue to get, I ended up getting a copy of a facsimile edition of Uncanny X-Men #266 signed for Chris (find him at chrisisoninfiniteearths.com, @acecomics on twitter, etc.!). Also had acquired an ‘extra’ Avengers Annual #10, so got that signed for Bridgett (knowing Rogue to be just about her favorite character) and another facsimile Uncanny #266 for her husband Stephen (knowing Gambit to be one of his). (you can find them at Seraphim Entertainment, Bridget at Euphoria).

I had several other friends who were unable to make it…and I feel bad not having been able to get stuff signed for them. Had I known they weren’t gonna make it, would have made those arrangements!

That said…going in, I had sticky-notes on the issues with names, intending to get the signatures "personalized" (remember, I’m not in it for reselling and such!). However, came to realize Mr. Claremont was just doing straight signatures, so I let it be…MUCH more interested in hearing anecdotes and other such than trying to be annoying about requesting personalization if he didn’t seem concerned about it. I do remember that he commented on the Uncanny 266s, something about if anyone had any extras, he’d be glad to have ’em. (Which, coming after a tease from that site that bleeds coolness) seemed to be to confirm he’s got something going on with Gambit…


And…well…that was that. 3 hours in line, 9 books signed, and a memorable experience (for me) on the whole!

I defffffinitely preferred this to a convention…while I’d have been way happier with NO LINE…that’s just not gonna happen! But for spending 3 hours in line for a couple of minutes of time with the guest of honor…this whole thing sure beat spending a similar time/line/etc. at a convention with paid admission and skipping other events while in line.

This post is a good 4 months or so LATE, so I do apologize for that, as well as being SO all-over-the-place. Much of this has been stream-of-conscious writing…I’m not going back through to edit overall, and if I second-guess myself TOO much I’ll NEVER get this posted.

So feel free to chime in in comments, here on the blog itself, or on twitter if I’ve posted a link, or on facebook with the same. I’ll gladly follow up on some half-finished thought, clarify where I’m clear as mud, etc.

Otherwise…bringing this post to a close, for now!

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Halloween ComicFest 2017

Over the weekend, we had Halloween ComicFest. Basically like a Halloween-themed Free Comic Book Day with participating retailers. Same sorta thing–publishers put out specific comics that retailers can order, that are intended to be given away. Retailers, of course, can opt to do other stuff as well.

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Since I was not in costume, I was part of the crowd that qualified for picking 5 of the "free" issues. I’m definitely in a Thor mood lately, and Ghostbusters and The Tick caught my eye. I rounded it out with Darth Maul and Hellboy and the BPRD. I also snagged three "back issues" of Action Comics from the New 52-era (#s 37-39), which MIGHT leave me "only" missing #s 36 and 40 or so from that run, and thus effectively means I’m a mere 2 or so issues shy of having every issue of Action  Comics from #583 to #990!

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Along with the Halloween issues, Carol & John’s also had several bonus things to choose from with a purchase. I opted for the Thor by Walter Simonson vol. 1.

Later in the day after some non-comics personal stuff, I was able to stop by Comic Heaven, where I picked up Atomahawk #0 to try, and the fourth volume of Criminal (I think there are 7 volumes). I was also able to get the Walking Dead reprint of #1, Wizard World edition from 2013. Pretty nifty.


Thanks to a couple friends, I learned that Dollar General had some sort of pack of skeleton miniatures. Took some hunting (and finding multiple DG locations) but combined with figures I already had, I was able to take the following photo (done up meme-style at another friend’s suggestion).

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After all…this week (I believe) we get the first issue of a new (and this time weekly) TMNT/Ghostbusters comic series. And this would be a scenario (sorta) the Ghostbusters might just be able to help with, no?

The Weekly Haul – Week of May 11th Bargain-Stuff

I managed to miss the pull-list stuff this week–store owner was busy with another customer, I forgot to ask, and I had a mix of stuff, so taking responsibility for myself…going back to the comic shop Friday to fix my error. Also stopped at the other local-ish shop to check on Captain America: Fighting Chance TPBs…alas, only had one, so zero temptation to splurge. Did get a handful of things from the quarter bins there. Between both shops, spent a whopping $4.50 on 18 25-cent books (and several extra Free Comic Book Day ‘free’ issues)!

(I say ‘free’ because the shops still have to purchase them…they’re just then expected to turn around and not charge customers for ’em. I know that, and appreciate that, so don’t truly consider them actually free.)

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Scored the first couple issues of ElfQuest…neat little find. A Hawkman special that I may already have but don’t consciously remember. A “UPC variant” of HardCase #1 for the heckuvit. A couple issues of a Milestone series I don’t think I knew existed (or had forgotten, anyway). The first issue of Starlin‘s Dreadstar ‘cuz hey…Dreadstar. And because I know I’d lost my original sometime through the years, I continue to–on occasions like this that I come across it–snag the initial publication that helped lead to the Earth X mega-saga.

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Several general-ish Marvel issues–the X-Men issue where we found out who Onslaught really is; a Marvel Comics Presents issue with the Falcon on the cover (‘cuz hey, I love the Anthony Mackie‘s MCU character!), and a couple issues–including the first–of Nomad (‘cuz hey…”Bucky”!) Snagged the first issue of MASK for quasi-nostalgic feelings; ditto the American Flagg! Special.

And then the Ash issue I actually opened up to check, and found the words “Vol 1. No. 1, November, 1994″…so I believe this is the first Event Comics issue…by Quesada and Palmiotti, several years before they were brought on with Marvel for the Marvel Knights project. As I recall, a relatively “hot” issue 20-ish years ago. 25-cents for me, now.

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Also grabbed a couple of shiny duplicates in Turok and Thunder Strike #1s, as well as X #25. And then the several Free Comic Book Day issues from the FCBD leftovers.

All of these for “only” $4.50…a far superior value to most contemporary single-issues, and more interesting and such to me than pretty much anything that Marvel is putting out right now for $3.99 apiece!

Still, I did buy several DCs, with a couple other comics to pick up Friday that keep the “bargain books” very firmly a small minority of my weekly purchase.

All the more with planning to give the first few weeks of Rebirth a shot, if only to show “support” for the $2.99 price-point.

Free Comic Book Day Haul 2016

Free Comic Book Day is no fun alone.

Suffice it to say, I went to one shop that was nearby for the weekend, picked several issues, bought a collected volume I’ve been intending to purchase for a couple weeks now, and got out.

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Free Comic Book Day’s good for when schedules work with friends–a group thing, a social thing.

Of the books, really the only one I “went in looking for,” or was particularly aware of ahead of time, was the ROM #0 issue. But I’d actually already “accounted for” that so it was not going to be a problem.

It just seemed a shame to NOT go out for FCBD, as I don’t think I’ve actually missed any of ’em yet.

Free Comic Book Day 2015 – A Few Issues’ Thoughts

Free Comic Book Day was this past Saturday, and I picked up a number of issues. Rather than attempt to write up single posts for each FCBD issue, here are some of the ones I’ve had a chance to read so far and my thoughts on them.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles FCBD 2015

fcbd2015_tmntI think this is the one I was looking forward to MOST of all the FCBD issues this year. And truthfully, I was not particularly disappointed. We get an all-new story–an in-continuity continuation of things that seems to fit within the present–it does not spoil the Mutanimals stuff, and takes place after TMNT #45, which works well with me getting it 3 days after #45. The art fits right in with the main series itself, so doesn’t even stick out. This isn’t some integral issue to stuff–I’m pretty sure one will be able to read the ongoing without ever knowing they missed this, but reading this will give newer readers some context of recent events and even core tidbits going back to the start of the IDW continuity. A lot of the issue is contextual exposition that I’m not used to seeing in the series…but given the nature of this it works very well for me, and I think would give the newer readers enough to contextualize the current story while teasing the detailed nuances of the actual stories that came before so one might seek those out.

The Tick FCBD 2015

fcbd2015_tickI remember watching and enjoying the animated Tick series Saturday mornings back in the day…scary to think it’s been 20-some years! Sadly I can’t really clearly remember the characters’ "conversational" voices in my head. This was still a quick, fun issue for the most part–the first story with Tick and Arthur dealing with a giant creature eating the city, and the third story with them being distracted by one threat or adventure after another, keeping them from holding a spot in line for the art museum. The middle story wasn’t really to my taste, explaining some of Tick’s time blacked out, apparently from an old #1 issue. Probably a lot more fun for long-time fans of the COMICS, but it means nothing to me not having read those. The art’s good, and the stories fun, and the price was certainly right. As "just" a fun FCBD issue, this is definitely worth reading, and I enjoyed reading it.

Secret Wars #0

fcbd2015_marvelsecretwarsMarvel’s hype-machine has certainly done its job…at least in getting me to where I’d actually be interested in getting a copy of this free issue (at a $4 discount from USUAL Marvel pricing!) The cover particularly stands out to me. However, I am not at all impressed by the interior…and was honestly rather disappointed to see Hickman’s credit on the cover and be consciously reminded that this IS actually his story. This issue didn’t really give me context for stuff, and I had no idea if it’s a "catch readers up to prepare them for the rest of the series" #0 or a "This is where the story truly begins" #0. The story seemed to actually try to be both, but felt choppy and lacked any kind of "editor’s notes" to refer me to any specific stories or to even place this against whatever issues are already out for various titles. Given I’ve hardly touched Marvel in a couple years, I’m lost. So while my frustration with DC and Convergence might give way to trying Secret Wars #1, I’m more curious about several of the tie-in minis and may well skip the core Secret Wars book…especially for the price point and knowledge that there’s virtually no way this does NOT get a collected volume whether I "support the single issues" or not.

Valiant 25th Anniversary Special

fcbd2015_valiantI already bought and read Bloodshot Reborn #1 weeks ago, so while I could buy into a story set some time after the last I’d seen the character within The Valiant, now suddenly finding this "untold" story segment kinda bugs me. This could’ve been included somehow in Bloodshot Reborn #1 or done as some other sort of giveaway or such. Or perhaps hold off a few weeks and kick off May with Bloodshot Reborn #1 next week, so this would have fallen where it should have. The lists of first appearances, greatest team-ups, greatest battles, etc. included both classic and contemporary Valiant so didn’t really interest me as presented. There are a couple teaser images for Eternal Warrior and Archer & Armstrong that are interesting enough. I honestly did NOT appreciate the inclusion of a chunk of Ninjak #1, given that came out awhile ago and #2 just came out last week…again, better to have held the release of #1 til after this, or "preview" something else. Give us a nice image for each title and a page apiece listing all the contemporary Valiant’s titles with their collected volumes available, perhaps. Give us some sort of timeline of where the various volumes fall in relation to each other. SOMEthing. Aside from the opening page TELLING me it’s been 25 years of Valiant, this did not feel at ALL like anything "special" for it…for that, give us the new stories from the hardbacks that kicked off the new Valiant close to a decade ago. Give us some new art from classic AND contemporary creators. I don’t know. This just felt like a big preview book and ad…but hey, it’s "free," it’s "just" a Free Comic Book Day issue to try to "sell" people on the stuff, so not like i"m even the target audience. C’est la vie.

Divergence #1

fcbd2015_dcdivergenceI don’t actually know what I expected of this issue, but whatever it was, this wasn’t it. I suppose I’m glad this is "original" material…I’m certainly quite tired of "just" reprint or "preview" material trying to sell me on stuff. Given the text intro addressing what this issue IS, I gather I’m not alone in that regard. We get the identity of who it is in the Batsuit taking focus in Batman come June, as well as a new status quo for SUperman (did Lois do her thing in a recent issue, or is this the first we’ve gotten of it?). And I had a hard time with the Justice League short, even though Johns wrote it. I found myself skimming it and I’m honestly just not any more interested in Darkseid now than I was nearly four years ago nor any previous time: I just don’t care about the character at any real length, especially as portrayed in the last 15-20 years. I also get tired of the constant messing about with characters for the sake of trying to appear new and hip and cool and relevant. Just goes to show how much I am NOT the target audience and have no particular problem continuing to primarily ignore DC stuff. Plus I have half a year’s worth of Batman Eternal to "catch up" on and I am burned out on weekly stuff.

All-New, All-Different Avengers

fcbd2015_allnewalldifferentavengersSomething to the cover of this issue just looks like some sort of "all-ages" comic rather than an actual in-continuity Marvel main universe continuity comic. And it certainly highlights just how out of touch I am with contemporary Marvel…I see the female Thor, a new Vision, the Nova I don’t care for, the Spidey I’m not interested in, some weird anatomy for the kid Marvel I know nothing about, Captain Falconamerica, and "Iron Man" (Stark, Pepper, who-knows-who). I have no real context for their story on the interior except it’s "the future," which could mean simply we’re getting an advance look at status quo, or this is a story set a few years down the road…I don’t really, honestly care enough to think too much. We also get a short story with a couple people turned into Inhumans and meeting a core group of experienced Inhuman characters…and maybe it’s just me, but it comes off very much of the Inhumans somewhat replacing mutants, which just does not sit well with me. This isn’t a horrible issue if you’re into the current Marvel stuff, but it does nothing positive toward "selling" ME on the Marvel Universe moving forward, and is truly something that I would not BUY and only have/read because it was free.

 

Doctor Who

fcbd2015_doctorwhoI actually couldn’t even "get into" this. I muddled through the chapter with the Twelfth Doctor, but only slightly skimmed the Eleventh and Tenth. For having so thoroughly enjoyed the tv series I just don’t seem to be able to get into the comics. Perhaps because the tv show is tight enough and thorough enough that I find it hard to "get into" adventures set within existing continuity "between episodes" or such. I picked up several copies specifically to share…but I’m half wondering as of this typing if I want to do that to anyone. At least they might enjoy the single issue as a random piece or for the photoshopped cover, even if it does nothing toward getting anyone interested in the comics. There’s also the issue of pricing and format…namely having four ongoing Doctor titles plus a rotating series of mini-series for the other Doctors, and hardbacks instead of paperbacks. At least when IDW had the license there were larger collected volumes than what Titan has done thus far (granted, they’ve only been publishing Doctor Who for about 10-11 months now).

Rise of the Magi #s 0 & 1 [Review]

riseofthemagi001Writer: Marc Silvestri
Artists: Sumeyye Kesgin & Marc Silvestri
Colorist: Betsy Gonia (#0 – Jasen Smith)
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Editor: Betsy Gonia
Art Assists: Bridget Silvestri
Cover: Marc Silvestri & Betsy Gonia (#0 – Silvestri & Andy Troy
Published by: Image/Top Cow
Cover Price: $3.50 (#0 – Free)

Rise of the Magi is one of the Free Comic Book Day comics that seemed to jump out more than most…though at present whether that was internet “hype” or the logo and cover of the issue itself catching me, I’m not sure. I hadn’t gotten around to reading that issue, but saw the first issue of the series itself out this past week, so decided to give it a chance. (While not the $2.99 that anymore is a quick-sell for me, the 0-issue having been free and this first issue being $3.50 at least kept it under the frustrating $3.99 price point).

riseofthemagi000The 0-issue’s cover was a bit deceptive…I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it led me to believe the main character was going to have some sort of agenda against witches (and warlocks?) or otherwise be opposed to magic/etc. in general. However, the issue begins with a page of mostly text setting up the situation–all magic is contained in a small orb, and doing something to the orb would affect the entire universe. A boy whose brother is part of some sort of guard unit protecting the orb stumbles across a situation threatening the orb, leading into the #1 issue.

In Rise of the Magi #1, we get some further context of the magic orb, the Spellguard, and what’s going on that threatens the orb. As the threatening scenario plays out, the boy is drawn tightly into the situation, and ultimately thrust into a world he’s going to have to learn to operate in as the series moves forward.

Visually, I was more impressed with the first issue–brief as it was. The second issue had a bit of a jarring visual shift, though at least it came with a “chapter break” in the story rather than just shifting with no apparent rhyme or reason. Given this is not an “established property,” I have no visuals to compare it to–simply the archetypal fantasy setting given the primarily-fantasy setting of the story. That lack of comparison leaves the art to stand on its own, with no preconceived notions on my part with the specific characters. Given I’ve liked Silvestri‘s art in the past on X-Men stuff in particular, I had rather high expectations for this, but found myself a bit disappointed. The art was not bad, it just didn’t live up to whatever my expectations had set.

Story-wise, I found myself rather “iffy” partway into #1, figuring this to be “just another” fantasy thing, but the ending of the issue gave a bit of a twist to that…yet, it’s a twist that also feels like “just another” of its kind. The characters and specifics may be a bit different, but it’s definitely not the first such story I’ve seen/read of its kind, and I’m not entirely sure what to make of it.

I can’t say I’m exactly “impressed,” but to again use the passive: it’s not bad. If you like Silvestri or any of the other creators involved, it’s definitely worth taking a look. All in all, I think it’s safe to say that if I happen to notice the next issue I’ll pick it up, giving the series another issue to really hook me, but it doesn’t yet have me enough to want to put it on my pull list.

Not So Free Comic Book Day

Last weekend included Free Comic Book Day 2014 on Saturday, May 3rd. While the “free” side didn’t work out QUITE as planned, I did wind up scoring some stuff I would not have if I hadn’t been out with a friend hitting 5 shops and a Half-Priced Books in one day:

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Since Batman Eternal #s 1-4 were all available in one go, AND “only” $2.99 rather than that frustrating $3.99 “everything” seems to be these days, I decided to take ’em as a “set” to give the thing a shot. I’m also all about Image‘s $9.99 vol. 1s, and will try most anything at that price point. Half Price Books had the New Avengers vol. 1 OHC for $9.99 as well, so I figured: why not?

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I also found Conan the Savage #4–a magazine/comic I’ve been trying to find for over a decade. Also picked up the “classic Valiant” Magnus #s 7 & 8…a bit pricey at $6/ea, but still well below my max of $10 for any single back issue of anything in 25 years. Found the old Bizarro’s World TPB for cover price (even all these years later) and decided to snag that as well.

Also snagged some 50-cent-bin comics–primarily a bunch of the post-Zero Hour #0 issues from DC from 1994 and a bag/boarded copy of the original The Ray mini-series #s 1-6.

Molly Danger FCBD 2013 [Review]

mollydangerfcbd2013Story and Art: Jamal Igle
Inker: Juan Castro
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: Frank Cvetkovic
Editor: Adam P. Knave
Published by: Action Lab Entertainment
Cover Price: $0.00

I was kinda surprised by this issue’s cover, as it seemed at first glance to suggest that Molly Danger could be a more fantasy-esque series than I’d thought, and that she might have a “sidekick” picked up in a story titled “Princeless.”

However, that’s certainly not the case! What happened here is something that I’m not used to, as I’ve stuck pretty much to mainstream stuff from the big publishers of late. That is, with these “independent” publishers, creators get a lot more freedom to work together, and so in this case, Igle‘s Molly Danger can be featured with Whitley‘s Princeless, and it works.

And that’s what this issue is: we get a Molly Danger story, my introduction to the character–and we get a separate Princeless story (that I’ll cover below).

I’ve heard of Molly Danger–I recall there was some sort of Kickstarter campaign awhile back, and I’ve seen stuff posted online. So I was curious…and here, fulfilling one of the greatest things about Free Comic Book Day, I’ve been given a chance to read a story of the character withOUT having to sink $3-$4 into it.

This story opens with a couple pilots responding to an alert, and reference to something called D.A.R.T.–apparently the group they belong to. We see that the city’s under attach by a large mech, and come to realize that D.A.R.T. seems to be a sort of analogue for Marvel‘s S.H.I.E.L.D., and they ‘support’ Molly Danger, that she’s got some sort of super abilities, but can’t (effectively) do it all herself. When the mech surprises her and knocks her over a mile away, she finds herself in a tough spot–with authorities blocking the area off, she needs to get back in–which is where those pilots come in.

There’s something a lot more fun and elegant to the story itself, that my words do not convey…as with any story: the difference between experiencing it, and being told ABOUT it.

The art has a nice quality to it–something I can’t quite put to words. But it’s good, and IS Molly Danger. I enjoyed Igle‘s work on Supergirl a few years ago from DC, and having sampled his creator-owned stuff in this: I’m inclined to seek out the series itself, and look forward to more of this character.

Continue reading

TMNT New Animated Adventures FCBD 2013 [Review]

tmntnewanimatedadventuresfcbd2013Story: Erik Burnham
Art: Dario Brizuela
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Cover by: Dario Brizuela
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $0.00

I’ve been “expecting” this series for quite awhile. I recall thinking it’d be one of the first TMNT things put out by IDW, and precede the new animated series. Obviously I was wrong in that expectation, but that also made me all the more curious about this issue, having watched most of the episodes so far of the tv show serving as inspiration.

I was quite gratified to find that this issue totally fits–for me, anyway–within the continuity of the show. It was like an adaptation of an episode, yet even better–because it’s an original story, with some really good art, that simply captures the spirit of the show while doing its own thing.

We open with Mikey showing off some new moves and getting teased by his brothers. Splinter steps into things, and uses the brotherly rivalry as a teaching moment–the turtles are all quite good with their chosen weapons…but what’s their skill level with an unfamiliar weapon? Ordered to maintain a temporary weapon swap, the turtles head up out of the sewers, and wind up fighting some Purple Dragons before encountering an even larger menace, and learning the wisdom Splinter set forth.

The story has these characters nailed–the personalities from the nick tv show shine through on all involved characters, and some of the quips are highly true to the show. I was especially impressed at a moment with Raphael and Donatello where Raph grabs Donnie and instructs him “Don’t you EVER try and finish that sentence”–the context and hearing the voice from the cartoon in my head nearly made me laugh out loud in a way that so rarely happens.

Visually I really enjoyed the art. Brizuela‘s name is familiar to me from work on a number of issues of Tales of the TMNT from 2004-2009. It’s very cool to see another “veteran” of Mirage TMNT doing some new TMNT work for tmntnewanimatedadventuresfcbd2013backIDW…something I hope to see more of from creators with any interest in doing so. The characters all look like their animated counterparts (though admittedly CGI to 2D); but the art’s still got a certain uniqueness about it. It’s obviously based on the cartoon, but it’s not trying to BE the cartoon. It’s also quite a lot better-looking than stills taken from the cartoon itself.

This is easily my favorite Free Comic Book Day issue this year, and I’m really looking forward to the first issue of the actual ongoing series this summer.

If you can only grab one FCBD issue this year, I’d highly recommend this to fans of the TV show or fans of Burnham or Brizuela‘s other work, and general fans of the TMNT as a whole.

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