Two weeks ago I ruminated on my vast dash across the San Fernando Valley, with a pit stop to West Hollywood’s Meltdown Comics, to five different area stores, the last stop being a beer garden/outdoor carnival atmosphere (Blastoff Books in North Hollywood) in celebration of Free Comic Book Day, the comic book’s industry equivalent of the television’s industry’s Upfronts and pilot season. I also went in depth of a good chunk of a contribution I made under the auspices of Sherman Oaks area comic book specialty shop, Earth 2 to the charity organization, the Hero Initiative, which is pledged to helping established comic book industry professionals lend a hand when money and health expenses grow too tight. I explained I did it mostly in memory of Thundercats/Silverhawks/Batman: The Animated Series writer Steve Perry who dedicated countless hours to volunteering for this organization died in a tragic hostage mishap. However, there was also an ulterior motive to my madcap mental gymnastics of thinking, as this acute exercise in philanthropy was the only way I could think of in obtaining all of this year’s Free Comic Book Day editions without resorting to making some gouging e-bay retailer rich in profiting off a bunch of comics that were supposed to be given away anyway.
Also in the last blog I went through the first twenty or so comics in the Free Comic Book Day editions and gave my thoughts to each and every one of them. This edition is strictly posted to mop up of the remaining thirty or so books and to give my insights on them before they grow old and moldy. Also stay tuned to the end, as I share with you a SPECIAL CELEBRITY FREE COMIC BOOK DAY EDITION going back at least five years or so handed to me unexpectedly by the celebrity himself.
Keep in mind, these books were given away free with the kindness of the publishers who happen to have participated this year, and while is free is free (and free is good, right?), don’t let a little thing such as my built in bastard snark radar aid in deterring you from trying out these products when they’re fully fleshed out as sellable in comic book stores.
Dark Lily & Friends (Space Goat Comics) Slightly appealing all ages sampling smorgasbord of light hearted creations featuring the debut of Dark Lily who looks to be no different from the other Death inspired goth girl brigade that we’ve seen in countless other small press wares before her. Dark Lily boasts of coming to Earth to mingle with us simple minded folks from her castle in the moon. There are other sample bit of shorties featuring the rest of the line’s roster such as Monster Elementary, Rocket Queen & The Wrench, and Mage, Inc. (Not pictured)
SpongeBob Freestyle Funnies (Bongo Comics), the annual companion piece to Bongo Comics Free for All features the mishaps of Nickelodeon’s lead cartoon mascot which is one character my young niece is absolutely clambake crazy over, but I doubt she’d touch this with 10 foot fly fishing pole. Includes work by indie hit James Kochalka and an outstanding funny Mermaid Man yarn written by Evan Dorkin with gorgeous art by Ramona Fradon, who must really take this in stride since Mermaid Man is a direct parody of her Silver Age Aquaman work (Not pictured).
Spectrum (Automatic Publishing) It’s almost as if two stars from a long defunct Sci-fi television show, Nathan Fallion and Alan Tudyk (Firefly) got together and decided to collaborate on a science fiction themed comic book together with so-so results. WHY that’s exactly what it is. But if anyone who would know more about robot assassins, telepathy, and space pirate battles dressed to look like anime cartoon cutouts, it would be these guys.
The Phantom (Hermes Press) – NOW books such as these, make it worthwhile getting up at the crack of the dawn for FREE COMIC BOOK DAY for. It’s a reprint book representing fleeing memories of the Charlton Comics Phantom era. Before DC’s Batman, Phantom Stranger, Aquaman and countless others seen in the pages of the Brave & The Bold, Jim Aparo was the premiere Phantom comic book artist in the early seventies. Unfortunately the few issues I had towards the end of the run I had when I was kid didn’t have Aparo art in them, so it’s an absolute joy to experience some of these classics which run roughly ten bucks a back issue these days. Hermes does a Phantom FCBD book every year to help entice readers into buying their lavish line of Phantom reprint volumes covering the Gold Key, Dell, and Charlton comic book runs.
DC Superhero Girls (DC Comics) DC’s 2nd comic aimed for the young prima donnas in your life. Imagine trying to get your young daughter or niece or cousin to get into comic books when they’re being raised by testosterone fueled dads in their lives. It’s difficult when I have a sister who recently divorced and had to move another state over because she couldn’t find work as a teacher, so my two nieces wind up being raised by each of their respective fathers – UNDER THE SAME ROOF (yeah, the two dads are roommates, so cue the John Stamos jokes here), so ALL there is talk of sports and sports are constantly on the tv. Now my oldest niece had to read Watchmen as a book report, while the younger pre-teen won’t sully even sully fingertips with fresh four colored newsprint DESPITE her having used to beg me to pick her up when she was 4 or 5 years old and have me run her around the room yelling Supergirl at the top of her lungs – WELL, her current tomboy exterior definitely wouldn’t identify with the flying milksop represented in this incarnation. It’s an well worn out concept: all the super hero girls including Cheetah and Harlequin (?) somehow all become classmates in the same high school. The two minute animated shorts on youtube were popular enough to warrant its’ own full length series on Boomerang, but knowing my 11 year niece, it probably wouldn’t have passed the Teen Titans Go! smell test with her either.
Awake #0 (Action Lab Comics) introduces from the ground floor up a new series of teen age interplanetary adventures blended in with ghost spirits, politics, and cutesy animal aliens. It’s a thought provoking read that’s well paced and is more than capable of roping young readers who want more than your usual super hero fare. I was kind of intrigued by the back page ad of how this company literally just thought of doing a comic book series based on their canine mascot and decided to call it: Action Lab: Dog of Wonder. Oh, I get it, Action Lab, as in Action Labrador. Sure took them long enough: approximately twenty or so years long enough since the company’s formation to finally figure that out.
Sonic Sampler (Archie Comics) Sonic the Hedgehog has been round for quite a while now. It’s one of those mind boggling concepts, like Mindcraft, that the young’uns seem to grasp more quickly than me. I seemed to have remembered back in the nineties that it had seemed to work better as an animated series.
Camp Midnight Free Comic Book Day Special (Image Comics) Image is not widely known for peddling all ages stuff, but when they do, they do a doozy. This is writer Steven T. Seagle (he of Sandman Mystery Theatre fame)’s new schtick writing an original all age stories with classic atypical standard monsters, only this time if you’re a monster attending an all monster summer camp and you’re are really too pee shy to metamorphose into your inner-monster in front of your peers, you’re going to have a rough time adjusting to friends trusting you. Artist Jason Adam Katzenstein gives it that chilly type of Neil Gaiman disturbed children story appeal. Fun for the entire family and to read to your little ones at night including your dog, IF he happens to turn into a werewolf at night.
ROM (IDW Publishing) seemed to be the most hyped out of all this year’s FBCD offerings as it heralds the return of an alien hunting robot from outer space who’s got a cosmic bone to pick with a certain Skrull –like race of conquerors called the Dire Wraiths. It was pretty popular heady toy merchandised related stuff during the early 1980s’ as was the collaboration back then between HASBRO and Marvel during its’ long fruitful partnership when they were churning out the comic book issues. The appeal of certain ROM issues back then was he could mix it up with Spider-man as well as the rest of the Marvel Universe, but in this new incarnation, writer Chris Ryall and artist Christos Sage are left in the vast wilderness of space all their own. So far, so good as they deliver an beguiling set up to what promises to be this summer’s biggest cosmic rollercoaster- provided we don’t have stupid crossovers with the likes of Star Trek and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, even though it’s quite hypocritical for me to say so (but Micronauts are welcome since they too are from HASBRO). Back up feature, Action Man, a British homage G.I. Joe was also a fun read as well (not pictured).
Captain America (Marvel) It would have been completely asinine if Marvel hadn’t released a Captain America related issue, seeing as how Captain America: Civil War released in theaters earlier in the month is ramming the box office flagpole where the BvS: Dawn of Justice’s sun don’t shine. Writer Nick Spencer who’s also doing a bang up job penning Sam Wilson: Captain America and artist Jesus Saiz brings Steve Rogers back in to the fold after events depicted in the Assault on Pleasant Hill events that ran through all the Avengers related titles. New costume, new type of electro magnetic shield, and a mixture of new and cast members will make the upcoming premiere issue (which I believe has come out by the time this appears downloaded) of the new series a perfect fit between admirers of the Ed Brubaker and Mark Gruenwald runs since Spencer writes Rogers with such patriotic clarity without being condescending. Writer Dan Slott and artist Javier Garron offer a peak into the new Spider-Man summer event storyline of “Dead No More” in which every character in the Spider-Man mythos magically comes back to life. Slott’s recent turn on Amazing Spider-Man has been a breath of fresh air since the events of Secret Wars, reinventing a Peter Parker for a new generation with the recent moves to Singapore and with most of his adventures taking him across globally in Tony Stark’s footsteps as he is now an industrialist himself. I was away for a while until he got that whole Dr. Octopus/Superior Spider-man spiel out of his system (well, nearly almost), but as sales and word of mouth indicate, Slott’s new take got my web curiosity all tangled in knots and now I’m reading it along with nearly everything else (sorry, not pictured).
Worlds of Aspen 2016 (Aspen Comics) Aspen Comics, a small moderate publishing company from Culver City who hides in the high rises of where a lot of the Sony Pictures related companies are headquartered (I think they share the same office space as Top Cow) promises a more cohesive universe with a prelude to their big crossover event that introduces new and newly revamped characters from their roster led by the late Michael Turner’s creation, Fathom leading the charge.
Attack on Titan Anthology (Kodansha Comics) – I have to admit, I’m a LOT late to this anime phenomenon. IF anything, the first I heard of this was when I encountered some pimply teenager at a Arby’s wearing a t-shirt. The kid told me about how the entire crazed concept is a sensation in its’ native Japan (although its. Japanese animation trying to mimic old English Saxon folklore) with the fumbling giddy grinning giants being the main attraction. So on this kid’s word, I started watching the series on Netflix and holy shit did this thing started to give me nightmares. I mean giants running around with these childlike grins devouring people and biting heads off?- WHAT F@%KED DISEASED MIND comes with this stuff and is there any way they can make more than twenty-five episodes? So this freebie is a preview of a hardcover anthology that will be coming out during the summer with new original stories provided by some of the comic industry’s current super star hitters such as Brendon Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, Michael Avon Omening, Kevin Wada, and a very funny series of panel gags by Evan Dorkin (and I can vouch on how this series would definitely appeal to him).
Pink Panther (American Mythology Productions) This publisher does mostly licensed stuff and with the Pink Panther free comic book, they prove that they can capture the essence of the wonderful madcap mayhem of the original Fritz Freleng’s shorts from the 1970’s that I remember as a kid like fire flies in a jar. It was the only Saturday morning cartoon that my stepfather would watch with my half-sister and I, as he was quite fond of the Ant and the Aardvark short segment sandwiched in the middle (which coincidentally got its’ own separate DVD/Blu Ray release last week) of the show. Anyway, the first story in this book that parodies the legend of Thor is a gem of a hoot told in the show’s same lovely minimalist dialogue free style.
The Legend of Korra (Dark Horse Comics) – if you’re a fan of the Nickelodeon anime- American steampunk influenced series as much as I am (I love this series even more than it’s predecessor, The Last Airbender), then this issue would be very essential reading because the lead off Korra story unlocks a major puzzle piece in its mythology: namely how Korra first met her giant levitating hybrid panda bear/white wolf that she named Naga. The rest of the issue I didn’t care much for with the How to Dragon Your Dragon & Plants vs. Zombies’ shorts.
Lady Mechanika (Benitez Productions). More crazy steampunk shenanigans with an excerpt taken from Joe Benitez half Victorian era badass, half cybersuited super ample bosomed demon hunting femme fatale that reminds me way too much of Witchblade or the many others of her ilk from the mid-nineties era when these Image type maligned female half naked anti-heroes were all the rage back then. This is an excerpt from one of her graphic novels. It’s pretty to look at, but really not much for me to go on wanting more.
Love & Rockets (Fantagraphics) Love & Rockets is the pleasant alternative to those who can’t stand mainstream comics, (and there was a time in the late eighties, when I thought I would turn my back on them altogether) if you’re looking for a delicious super caffeinated blend stellar eye catching art and stirred in with engrossing breathtaking dialogue – The Hernandez Bros still prove that they are literally at the top of their game, leaving a blazing wake of other equally talented admirers to blaze behind seemingly self autobiographical angst rants such as Daniel Clowes, Adrian Toomes, or Peter Bagge. Their respective works wouldn’t have existed if it weren’t for these guys. You’re just ignorant or culturally inept if you have trouble keeping up with Hopey and the gang. If you think you’ve outgrown Archie comics, then the L & R landscape is just where you want to be until you’ve reached the age of retirement.
Mooncop (Drawn & Quarterly) wins the coveted award for the most quirkiest free comic book day offering EVER. In fact, if I had a spare Eisner in my back pocket, I’d be more than will to give it to Tom Gauld along with a bouquet of shiny dead roses. This is merely a preview for even more quirky things to come in September 2016 when Gauld releases a whole tome of these “Highlights for Adults” satirical cartoons. My first impression of reading Gauld’s material felt exactly like the same euphoric high I experienced when I first listened to Radiohead’s OK Computer. I can literally hear Thom Yorke’s voice acting out to this.
Mix Tape 2016 (Devil Due/First Publishing) Another four in one compilation made up of the latest from Devil Due’s including one of First’s old stalwarts, The Badger in a fierce knock down grudge match with Vladimir Putin which is the main reason for picking up this edition. Writer Mike Baron & artist Val Mayerik both channel their inner Neal Adams’ Muhammad Ali vs. Superman in this richly satisfying blood bout. Make sure to duck from flying teeth. The other two features; Mercy Spark didn’t really grab me, but if Squarriors is any indication, it’s a book that’s going to be on equal par with David Petersen’s MouseGuard. The last feature, Public Relations, was a sly tongue in cheeky fun read.
The Misadventures of Grumpy Cat (And Pokey!) (Dynamite Entertainment) I understand that Grumpy Cat is a huge internet phenomenon with its’ flair for its’ sleigh of hand one panel gags and its’ morose outlook view of the world, but is it really a character that can maintain that type of momentum throughout long form stories? Multiple writer teams led by Ben McCool try out our patience & diligence. It’s just too, too cutesy for my taste. “Paws of Justice” which is an obvious parody of the latest Batman vs. Superman movie is riddled with so much ‘I saw that coming from a mile away’ clichés, while McCool’s “Detective Cats” plays delightful homage to the gumshoe Film Noir genre with a real twist on the whodunit conclusion.
Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom (Arcana) I think perhaps the H.R. Lovecraft hardcore aficionados would take complete umbrage with this complete asinine concept of a disturbed, but brilliant horror writer childhood tales reduced to nothing but complete mindless puppetoon like garbage in order to sell dvds and streaming video to kids. There’s nothing supposed to be cute and cuddly about a plush looking Cthulhu. I won’t be watching this on hulu, that’s for sure. Equally stupid is the back-up feature ‘supposedly’ created by Stan Lee entitled “The Unknowns” which is about a kiddie teen rock band recruiting space aliens and giant gorillas to be their auxiliary members. The whole concept is mind numbingly stupid and makes little sense as to why a near ninety year old man is trying to conceptualize on how a future rock band would sound. It’s not Josie & the F@%king Pussycats. that’s for sure.
Civil War II (Marvel) – the other big event going on at Marvel besides the new Captain America/ Avengers movie is the new variation of the film’s title in which the entire Marvel Universe seems to be pitted against the might of Thanos – who is slated to be the main antagonist in the next Avenger set of films, so of course, the House of Mighty Big Multimedia Ideas wants you on the ground floor with this special prologue set in place in which the big smack down with Thanos leaves a series of consequences in which a few of our favorites don’t completely walk away unscathed, courtesy of Brian Michael Bendis & Jim Chueng Of course, this is what Free Comic Book Day comics from the majors are all about: to whet our appetite for the big main event summer series, much like they did for Secret Wars last year. If only DC had followed in tandem with a special prologue for their Rebirth project (but $2.99 for an eighty page chapter isn’t too shabby either). Back up story is a outtake from the current running All New All Different Avengers series which introduces the new Wasp by Mark Waid, Alan Davis, & Mark Farmer, of which the continuation of this tale lies smack dab at the bottom of my reading pile.
We Can Never Go Home/Young Terrorists (Black Mask) Black Mask Publishing is entering back into the publishing fray with a flip book commemorating two of their most ambitious graphic novels and series which are definitely the most twisted and cringe in your seat worthy materials I’ve seen comics do in a while. This material contained inside could out gross out true devotees of the Walking Dead with one arm tied behind your back and a blindfold over your eyes. Succubus eating disorders and administering brutal prison beat downs meted upon cute Irish girls is only the icing on the cake in this brutal mature readers edition. Get me these graphic novels, STAT!!
Valiant: 4001 AD (Valiant Comics) is the company’s big summer event cross-over occurring throughout most of their titles for most of the summer including sneak peeks with the latest fun going on with Archer & Armstrong and Bloodshot (which I hear is being made into a major motion picture from Sony). Everything else is up for grabs. I do however notice the change in structure in most of the Valiant these days, namely that the stories these days are more intensified with action rather than being too wordy earlier in the company’s run where they were just too time consuming to read with so much expeditionary dialogue frothing from each of the characters’ mouths.
Pokemon’ (VizMedia) . Don’t get me started. Please see my previous post, the “101 Dishonorable Deaths of Pokémon” blog post for every nuanced iota of absolute seething hatred and ultra annihilation that I’d like to see done to this property. Believe it or not, I got most of the sidebar quizzes right. The less said about admitting that, the better I feel about root canal and anal probes as major causes for celebration.
CBLDF Presents Defend Comics: FCBD Edition 2016 (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund) – the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is another non-profit organization that does the comic book industry proud, and I usually try to donate whenever I can, usually at shindigs thrown during the summer at Comic Con International. So they have assembled some fine talent to help spread the word of why free speech, especially in the comic book that you read and buy is detrimental to society with the likes of James Kochalka, Andy Runton, Jack Patrick Green and a host of others. Hey, if we didn’t have the CBLDF, movies such as Deadpool would probably never have been made because of you damn brats sneaking those profanity laced comic books in past your parents.
I suppose it was a mere coincidence that the last 4 books I had at the bottom of the reading pile were all martial art themed starting with Street Fighter V # 1 (UDON Entertainment). Not a big lover of video game punch ups as the three stories contain within present three different globe spanning matches with the characters in ‘niche’ universe. The only one out of the three I found slightly amusing was the one starring Cammy White in a deadly death match to see if she’s worthy of keeping her seat on a plane. C’mon, we’ve all been through type of ordeal at one time or another.
One-Punch Man (Viz Media). While trying to figure out what to do with my life now that I’ve exhausted every episode of Attack on Titan on Netflix. What would be the next type of slightly appealing anime show to follow every Saturday . The answer came to me as I opened (starting with the back page first. Remember, Japanese comics are read right to left, instead of left to right and front to back. Just as easy as learning to wipe your own ass with toilet paper) this book and incidentally stumbled upon a list of all the episodes so far of this anime series. So upon reading the introductory tale, I figure I can totally dig this concept of a plain everyday average bald headed kid who can take out demons from hell with simply one punch them through and leave a hole behind. The second feature, My Hero Academia is another one of those super heroes in high school cloned concept (see DC Superhero Girls up above).
Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises (Darby Pop) . As a nine year old, I vividly remember the death of martial arts legend, Bruce Lee in the summer of 1973. I think perhaps it was the very first obituary I ever read in a newspaper, only because I remembered him so fondly from the Green Hornet show as Kato. Even back then, that one season hit wonder show used to be on syndication at that same timeline along with Batman & Superman reruns. Bruce’s surviving daughter, Shannon Lee, of which I am five years her senior is honoring her father by writing him in as a comical character in a fictitious comic book series that takes place in North Hollywood (and points given for mentioning the Metro Red Line Subway, because tourists are not fully convinced that an actual subway exists in Los Angeles) in which Bruce wakes up from a mysterious coma. Shannon explains in the book for the reason she goes for this less serious storytelling route was because she knew deep down that her father never got around to making a comedic film during his lifetime. Well, from what I heard, Jackie Chan already trampled all over that territory. Anyway, the artist Jeff Kline goes in length about how getting the nuances of rendering Shannon’s father just right from photo references provided to him exclusively by Bruce Lee’s family.
And lastly, Assassin’s Creed (Titan – not pictured) May be the sleeper hit of the entire FCBD stack this year (as much as the Fight Club one for Dark Horse was last year), as the forthcoming movie starring Michael Fassbender as a time jumping assassin is starting to attract a lot of buzz lately. Two separate stories in this issue, and as far as video game to comic book adaptations go, this wasn’t a bad read.
Now what you’re wondering: is this for f@%king real, Coatney?
Yeah, it is. It’s absolutely actor tyrant broadway show heckler wunderkind, Shia LaBeouf weird ass attempt by being a alternative underground artist/writer. As many of you remember, LaBeouf was reamed a new one by openly plagiarizing Daniel Clowes’s autobiographical stories for a short subject that LaBeouf made called HowardCantour.com.
Apparently, LaBeouf tried his hand at imitating Clowes (rather badly) with these two books from which I heard he published off his Apple computer. These books were stuffed in my hands by none other than Shia LaBeouf himself at a Free Comic Book Day event held at Earth 2 approximately four years ago. He didn’t even ask permission if I wanted them or not, he just placed them in my hands while my back was turned to him shopping for those cheap $1.00. It didn’t register to me who the hell it was until a couple of girls obviously weaned on Teen Beat Magazine started screaming his name while he took off in his convertible to other Free Comic Book Day Store celebration parts unknown. I almost threw these those two perfectly bound pieces of shit out in the garbage until some people on facebook convinced me that they might be collector’s items one day.
Those photos you see above are literally the first time I ever turned a page to shudder to see at what was inside.
Next blog in a couple of weeks: More Kscope music love and those pesky Comic Book Related Show May Sweepstakes ratings wars that you’re all so fond of.