Hitting the gates running with our second to last chapter of this year’s coverage of Free Comic Book Day editions. If I hadn’t said this before, I’ll say it again. I love diversity, especially when it’s celebrated on Free Comic Book Day. I didn’t pull any of the titles apart based on genre, I kept to a rigorous schedule, not once wavering from the method I set out for myself in tackling this year’s offerings – otherwise this year I would’ve quit while I was still ahead if I read all the DC and Marvel Superheroes books in one sitting. besides, they were fewer super hero themed comics this year than most. Only four companies, DC, Marvel, Comics House and Valiant offered anything in that sub-category, everything else was a kiddie themed or YA promotion or a showing off of wares when it came to mature themed selections without having to purvey to filth like that one Skategirl book that got sent out last year to all the libraries that ordered through Diamond and didn’t get any word in advance that the language and situations depicted weren’t safe for all ages. I guess that’s why some companies like Scholastic had to turn on the charm by offering more previews for young adult graphic novels. Going from Z – A had a rather different feel than most years. The material gets less difficult to handle and more of the easier ones get to be at the tippy top at the alphabetized mountain making the entire effort more of a breeze to navigate through. I like going from a dead serious superhero saga to picking up a silly animal book the next and seeing the one after that is a preview yet again of a young child about to experience teen aged angst amongst his or hers peers. And following after that, maybe a celebration of someone coming to terms with their sexual or cultural identity. It’s all good if it’s on the sequential page.
NEXT WEEK in our chilling finale, there will be a 2nd bonus review of Viz’s Kaiju No 8. by one of my co-workers. I WAS supposed to use it last Friday, but it somehow wound up in my Yahoo! Spam folder. This fellow colleague insisted that he write it because HE knows deep down, I don’t understand a fucking thing about manga. I know how to read it, but I don’t understand what the fuck is going on EVEN when I’m reading them in the proper way of right to left.
This week’s lucky ten, working my way down from the letter G:
GALAXY, THE PRETTIEST STAR FCBD SPECIAL – DC Comics.
WRITER: Jadzia Axelrod
ARTIST: Jess Taylor
LETTERS: Ariana Maher
Dreadful reminder of why The CW (emerging) Network had to axe 3 of it DC Universe-themed shows such as DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Batwoman, & even freshman Naomi (she was too new of a character with not many people being familiar with her in the first place) – touting the much in constant in your face message that LBGT has now leapfrogged into becoming the new norm. Hey Kids! Comics are For Gays Too! Okay MESSAGE RECEIVED! I know in lieu of PRIDE MONTH that it might not be PC to say this – but it seems lately that all DC Comics wants to do nowadays is just specifically cater to the LGBTQIA community. OK, one Robin decides to become bi-sexual, son of Superman is gay, adopted ward of Aquaman is gay. EVERY SIDEKICK is turning to the out of the closet side, where it’s no longer dark. There’s really no such thing as a hetrosexual relationship happening amongst the teens depicted in DC Comics anymore. And here’s another NEWFLASH! Every character in the upcoming Multiverse Teen Titans series will all be hailing from a LBGT happy alternate dimension – which is probably the same place where this character by the name of Taylor who can morph at will into a planetary princess without trying to let on to her adopted school friends that she really is a girl with purple glittery skin, but it all boils down to all being a kiddie dress up version of David Bowie‘s “The Man Who Fell To Earth”. The colors are way too much for me to bear – there are bright and neon fluorescent throughout and it’s all very blinding and distracting. It’s probably why the colorist name has been left off the credits. Not one of DC’s best free offerings if you’re walking in the middle of something that you have no idea of what has previously occurred, but at least you’ll walk away with some great tips of how to apply make-up to aliens. It’s on sale at finer bookstores and LCS shops right now even as we speak.
FUZZY BASEBALL – Papercutz
EVERYTHING: John Steven Gurney
EDITOR: Jim Salicrup
Badger up! Papercutz has had some great FCBD hits in the past and some plain strikeouts, but Smurfy editor Jim Salicup hits a grand slam straight out of the park with Gurney’s anamorphic take on The Bad News Bears. Each page is a delight and insanely clever especially with some inventive word play on the players names such as Hammy Sosa or Jackie Rabbitson as they face off against other major league opposing teams who consist of mostly ninjas and robots. Skimming over the mock player cards harkens me back to pleasant memories of filling in Mad-libs and trading Garbage Pail Kid cards with my friends when I was a kid. Plenty of bases loaded laugh out moments and you don’t have to drag your kids kicking and screaming to the latest Top Gun Marverick flick to indoctrinate them with patriotism when they’re already celebrating it with this very book that they’re holding in their hands. My California Angel’s ballcap is off to John Steven Gurney’s better than above batting average, for other than simply vendoring a spectacular product, he like to lecture kids in the state of Vermont area classrooms of his craft and that’s surprisingly good in a state that doesn’t hold homefield advantage in the MLB.
EQUILIBRIUM – Comic House (formely Chapterhouse)
WRITER: Keith Champagne
ARTIST: Scott Brian Woods
COLORS: Mariano Morales
LETTERS: Andrew Thomas
EDITOR: Keith Wts Morris
Anyone looking for a cheap knock-off of Flashpoint, look no further. For whenever there is a huge congregation of super heroes and super villains alike on a world that’s on the brink of total annihilation – always shift the blame when it comes to world shattering events upon the one character who makes his or her’s appearance a speedster (in this case, it’s a female who bears the moniker of The Streak). It’s the Ethan Van Sciver law! Apparently, Canada gets very few Marvel and DC Comics shipped up north these days, so they have to compensate with coming up with their own special multiverse crossover events. The whole Canadian roster of super heroes are here (minus Alpha Flight, of course) including good old Captain Canuck and they’re trying to save their world not from Thanos, neither Darkseid, but CLAW!! Oh my maple leafy goodness, what a super villain name to make me want to mess my drawers!! I just noticed since the last FCBD edition to feature Captain Canuck, the company name has changed from Chapterhouse Comics to Comic House. Curious as how they got the rights to include the Golden Age Daredevil or twisted Marvel’s arm into lending them Nick Fury to appear in a Canadian Flag onesie.
ENEMIES – JY Kids – an imprint of Yen Press
WRITER & ARTIST – Svetlana Chmakova
INK ASSISTS: Effie Lealand (assisted with colors)
COLORS: Melissa McCommon
As per usual, JY Kids and Yen Press feature their superstar player Svetlana Chmakova in another FCBD edition. The two time Eisner nominated writer and artist born in Russia and raised in Canada presents another installment in her Berrybrook Middle School series of YA books that follow the outstanding widely renown Awkward (not to be confused with the MTV series of the same name) and Crush. She’s also known and has won awards bearing both Joe Shuster and Dwayne McDuffie‘s names for the Weirn series of graphic novels as Best Childrens’ Series. In Enemies, childhood friends Felicity Teale and Joseph Koh are pitted against each other in a middle school after hours entrepreneur contest to come up with the best idea for a business plan. Probably not the greatest pitch to lure me to buy a product, but Chmakova shows no difficulty in pulling it off and make it all seem charmingly entertaining. Unfortunately, you won’t be find out who becomes the next junior Warren Buffett until September later this year when the entire graphic novel kit and koboodle is released.
DOCTOR WHO FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2022 – Titan Comics
WRITER: Jody Houser
ARTIST: Roberta Ingranata
COLORS: Warnia K. Sahadewa
What in God’s Galifrey name is The Fugitive Doctor? She doesn’t have her own television series nor can boast of owning her own special racing in space and time against a neon lamp light title sequence, but yet she’s being rewarded with her own set of merchandise including action figures, audiobooks and comic books AS IF she were a REAL DOCTOR. BUT I never heard of her. Luckily Wikipedian scholars have filled me in on the sordid TARDIS traveling details that she is a occasional recurring character that has been showing up lately in the 13th Doctor’s series of episodes portrayed by Jodie Whittaker, the first female to play one of the U,K. most popular pop culture icons. Jo Martin apparently has achieved another milestone in the long running sci-fi series institution of becoming the first black woman to portray a Doctor and now word has materialized from across the pond, that a black actor, Ncuti Gatwa, hailing from Rwanda will be replacing Jodie next season. It’s about freakin’ time. The Doctor is a alien from the race of Time Lords who regenerates from body to body whenever he or she is killed off. There’s no written rule that it always has be another white dude waiting on the other side of the mortal coil to take his or hers’ place. This isn’t the Boston Brand show for cripessakes. As for the comic, stalwart writer Jody Houser regales us with a hidden tale of The Fugitive Doctor crashing a treehouse party to hunt down some renegade plushy troll dolls in the exact same spot that the First Doctor is slated to make his first appearance on Earth. This tales serves as a prologue to the upcoming mini-series.
DISNEY MASTERS: DONALD DUCK & CO FREE COMIC BOOK DAY SPECIAL EDITION, MAY 7, 2022 – Fantagraphics Press
“SNORE LOSERS” –
WRITER & ARTIST: William Van Horn (also credited with lettering)
INKER: Andrea “Casty” Castellain
COLORS: Jo Meugnoit
“HERE TODAY, GONE APOLLO”
TRANSLATION: Joe Torcivia
ARTIST(s): Giorgio Cavazzano (pencils) & Sandro Zemolin (inks)
LETTERS: Paul Baresh
WRITER: Dick Kinney
ARTIST: Al Hubbard
COLORS: Scotte Rockwell & David Gerstein
LETTERS: Willie Schubert
WRITER: Bas & Pasqua Heymans
ARTIST: Bas Heymans
TRANSLATION: David Gerstein
LETTERS: Paul Barech
Fantagraphics Books picks up the reins from Gemstone Publishing in keeping the European Disney comics scene alive in this special sampling from their current line of available Disney Masters hardcover collections. Most of these tales are translated from their erstwhile French and Dutch editions. I found two of the tales to be outstanding, The Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge starrer, “Snore Losers” find Donald and his uncle bickering over on who gets to keep a million dollars in each of their respective dreams and “Fall Guy” also features Donald, along with his mischief inducing cousin, Feathy taking a vacation up north to Niagara Falls where Feathy insists that jumping off the falls in a wooden barrel is a completely normal thing to do. Hijinks further ensue. That tale sort of made me think of an alternative universe when my mother married my stepdad and they spent their honeymoon up in that area. Feathy could’ve given my stepdad some good ‘how to hammer yourself into a barrel’ tips. “Here Today, Gone Apollo” is a Super Goofy tale (translated from French), leaving “Family Feud” as a three pager starring The Big Bad Wolf and his family. I wonder if my long time facebook friend, Dave Rawson is included in these volumes. That’s how he used to make his bread and butter at one time, writing for the Disney European market.
DAV PILKEY’S DOG MAN & FRIENDS SUPER COMIC TEASER – Scholastic
“CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS”, “DOG MAN” & “CAT KID COMIC CLUB” – STORY & ART – Dev Pilkey
You can’t walk into any Barnes & Noble or a neighboring store chains such as Target or a Walmart without spotting a YA graphic novel with Dav Pilkey’s name on it. Kids love them, no matter how edgy or controversial they get. Dav got into a little hot water sometime last year when and Scholastic had to cease further publication of the book The Adventures of Ook and Gluk and remove it from retailers and libraries due to some stereotyping of the characters in the book. Pilkey stated that he intended to showcase diversity, equality, and non-violent conflict resolution by donating his entire advance, past, and future royalties from the book to organizations promoting diversity that are designed to stop violence against Asians. Ok, that’s all well and good, but here’s another problem I find while reading Dog Man. A cop and his dog get severely injured in ‘a mysterious explosion that causes the cop’s head to die’, but on the other side of the emergency room, the dog’s body dies, but its’ head survives. So like a Reeses’ Peanut Butter cup, the two are merged into one by sewing the dog’s head onto the cop’s body. I hate to say this, but this comes out as a demented delightful prank being played out by your neighborly Al Queda terrorists. Captain Underpants is tailormade for pervs – I don’t know any kid who can read that with a straight face. The only safe space for me in this was The Cat Kid Comic Club where everyone happens to know your vice-president’s name. Just ask Kamala.
DC LEAGUE OF SUPER PETS SPECIAL EDITION 2022 – DC Comics
“DC LEAGUE OF SUPER PETS: THE GREAT MXY-UP”
WRITER: Heath Corson
ARTIST: Bobby Timony
COLORS: Jeremy Lawson
LETTERS: Wes Abbott
WRITER: Jennifer Muro & Thomas Krajewski
ARTIST: Gretel Lusky
Just in time for next month’s straight to theater animated movie release and I believe it’s been placed in a good writer capable paws belonging to Heath Corson, who if I’m not mistaken was the head writer of the Krypto animated series that I only managed to see a handful of episodes (I also believe he was the writer responsible for all those straight to video Batman Unlimited movies) of. It’s a shame he’s not the screenwriter of the upcoming film, but fret not, his The League of Superpets lead tale is a ‘primer’ to help you prepare for the upcoming graphic novel coming out when the movie is released, so you get a first look at what team looks like before the movie hits the theaters. Speaking of “Primer“, there is a six page preview debuting a new heroine who smears her entire body in acrylic paints and leaps into the sky to rescue jumbo jets out of the sky. I would have rather had a entire FCBD edition focusing on this character than that Galaxy, The Prettiest Star dreck.
DARK CRISIS #0 FCBD EDITION 2022 – DC Comics
“WHO ARE THE JUSTICE LEAGUE?”
WRITER: Joshua Williamson
ARTIST: Jim Cheung
COLORS: Jay David Ramos
LETTERS: Tom Napolitano
EDITOR(s) Paul Kaminski with Chris Rosa (assistant)
“THE HISTORY OF THE DC MULTIVERSE”
WRITER(s): Joshua Williamson & Dennis Culver
ARTIST(s): Chris Burnham & Rafa Sandoval
COLORS: Hi-Fi & Matt Herms
LETTERS: Tom Napolitano with Jodi Tong
WRITER: Joshua Williamson
ARTIST: Daniel Sampere
The final DC Comics book given away this year is the set-up for the big summer event or rather it serves as an epilogue to events that happened previously. I was fearful that spoilers would’ve run amok since I still have a half year’s worth of Justice League issues to power through the pile of books that I photographed last week, including the overpriced acetate covered Justice League #75, Death of Justice League issue. The lead story presented by writer Joshua Williamson with eye popping art by Jim Chueng doesn’t even mentioned how the League perished other than it’s now Bart Allen in The Flash costume and his inaugural mission is to prevent Clayface from destroying that overpriced Central City tourist trap, The Flash Museum. And that’s just super dandy with me. This FCBD edition also serves as a reminder of all Crisises past offering a refresher course and a recap of what the actual outcome of all of them were. This book directly leads in to Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis one shot on sale this week and this whole storyline will be reverberating for the remainder of the year. Remember what I said earlier in The Equilibrium capsule review: whenever these crisises occur: always blame it on the speedster.
CARRIERS/DRAGON WHISPERER/BEORN FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2022 – Red 5 Comics
WRITER: Jay Huwer
ARTIST: Elias Martins
COLORS & LETTERS: Seb Valencia
EDITOR: Ben Ferrari (also listed as co-creator with Erica J. Helfin)
WRITER: Alex De Luca (also credited with Letters)
ARTIST: Glen Fernandez
WRITER & ARTIST: Ben Bender
Red 5 offers a smorgasbord of their series samplings that seems capable of catering to eclectic comic book reading audiences everywhere. Carriers is a sort of TMNT mock-up with all the high kicking martial arts seemingly to take place in the sky instead, although I think this territory is already being covered by my friend Michael Aushenker’s Pelican Bastards strips appearing on Solrad. Art by Elais Martins is outstanding and it may be worth a pick up in a trade which is on sale right now. Dragon Whisperer, pretty as it looks reminds me of any other animated series currently streaming on Netflix that begins with the word ‘dragon‘. That story continues in “Dragon Whisperer Volume II, The Search for Obsidian” I was particularly in lockstep with Beorn (sorry I can’t provide the proper Norwegian spelling), a little tyke of a viking who flinches from a rewarding princess’s kiss after he rescues her from a sinister troll witch who goes by the name of Mommy Smellg – all Beorn wants is fame and fortune in killing his first monster. Ben Bender has got a neato thing going on here with the journeyman boy Viking and his rather flippant naivete. If I happen to see the trade paperback at my local Barnes & Noble, I’ll definitely pick it up.
That’s it for this week. Check back next Friday for the climatic conclusion! Reviews of the final 9 titles and a bonus review provided by one of my co-workers of the Kaija No. 8 title published by Viz that I took a glance at last week and needs further clarflication – at least according to him.