This is the first weekend in May, and you know what that means. No, not Cinco de Mayo, that was Friday. Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day (aka FCBD)! The day when you can go into your local comic book shop and get free promotional issues of comics. This is an especially good day for kids, because Marvel and DC aren’t the only comics game in town.
I took my sons this Saturday and they each came away with a clutch of their own comics (plus the ones they sweet-talked me into buying for them). Comics from Boom! Studios, IDW and Oni Press among others have some great kid-friendly books, and it’s a fun opportunity to get them interested in reading. That is great and all, but it’s also a day when Marvel, DC, and Image release some of their own free issues, and that’s what I was there for.
I Hate Image
The big Image book this year was an I Hate Fairlyland special from Skottie Young called I Hate Image. This was an amazingly fun (and violent) story about the main character from I Hate Fairyland, a homicidal little girl named Gert, journeying through all the major Image titles to find the heads of Image comics so she can escape her own story. It’s packed with meta commentary and tounge-in-cheek jabs at some of the more popular Image titles.
Gert beats up Kam from Bitch Panet, catches a ride from Rick Grimes from Walking Dead, crashes a night club run by the gods of Wicked + Divine, and even has a run-in with Spawn himself before finally meeting the heads of Image. Skottie Young’s art is always fun to look at, and I Hate Fairyland has been his catharsis from drawing kiddie-themed comics. It’s full of gory violence and naughty language, and is super fun. After reading the FCBD special, I kind of want to give the whole series a go.
All-New Guardians of the Galaxy
The Brian Michael Bendis run of Guardians of the Galaxy never really held my attention, and I haven’t read much of them since about the time the first movie came out. With the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in theaters this weekend, what better time to release a free Guardians comic?
This time, Gerry Duggan, who has been writing Deadpool for a long time now, gets to take a crack at the Guardians. In this issue, Peter Quill and company are escaping the custody of the new Nova Corps. Groot is teeny (like in the movie) and Drax is a pacifist now. Not sure how that happened, but it’s played for laughs quite successfully. In fact, this Guardians feel fresh and funny under Duggan, something I rarely found in the Bendis run (he must’ve been saving that for Iron Man). The art by Aaron Kuder has a kind of Frank Quitely vibe to it that I appreciate as well.
The second half of the Guardians book is an introduction to the aforementioned Brian Michael Bendis’s new Defenders series. Marvel definitely has the synergy game down with relaunching Guardians just as the new film comes out as well as a Defenders series to coincide with the forthcoming Netflix show of the same name.
The Defenders isn’t quite as entertaining as the Guardians portion, as its a setup for the new ongoing. The Defenders take down a nightclub where New York’s ne’er-do-wells are meeting to fill the void left by a Wilson Fisk, who is evidently going legit. Unfortunately, that night club was owned by a certain big bad villain from Luke Cage’s past, and he doesn’t take kindly to their interference. It’s a solid setup for the ongoing, with top-notch art by David Marquez and Justin Ponsor.
I didn’t pick up any DC books this year. The only one I saw was a FCBD version of Wonder Woman #1 (which I already own). It’s a good title to have out there with the upcoming movie, but leaves a bit to be desired from those of us who are already fans. DC comics has been somewhat lax in past FCBDs as well, usually just dropping reprints of previous stories or sticking to Hanna Barbera titles. Marvel are the ones doing the heavy lifting as far as promotions. Which brings us to…
Secret Empire and Spider-Man
What to say that hasn’t already been said? The Cap lifting the hammer spoiler already leaked days ago. The rest of the story leading up to that is narrated by an unknown voice that seems to be speaking for all the heroes standing against Hydra. When the invasion comes, the heroes think they can handle it, but in their arrogance, they never saw the Cap betrayal coming, and ultimately fall to his superior planning. Turns out he knows them too well.
The art by Andrea Sorrentino is very cool. Each panel alternates between friend and foe, red and white, imitating the stripes of the american flag. The images themselves are washed out giving the whole story a bleak, helpless feeling as heroes fall one by one. The most baffling part is the last page with the hammer raising. The comic seems to be saying that Cap is worthy because he was stronger? The heroes were helpless, and their enemies were smarter, stronger, victorious, which made them worthy. Umm, what? When Thor’s hammer talks about being worthy, I don’t feel like that’s what it’s talking about, but what do I know? Anyway, that’s enough of that.
The second half of the book is a Spider-Man story by Chip Zdarsky. I knew I was in for a treat with a Zdarsky-penned Spider book. (Which was pretty much the only reason I picked up the Secret Empire title at all). It was a pretty great Spider-Man story. Peter Parker is out on a date with MJ, who is running Stark Industries in Tony’s absence. They argue the finer points of hyphens and Pete’s sense of humor when the Vulture happens by on a mission of up-to-no-good. Spider-man leaps into action by pummeling the Vulture with jokes about his age. The fight rages all over town until both Spidey and Vulture are tied up by a much younger (younger even than Peter) new villain. Also, S.H.I.E.L.D. was watching and seems concerned about the Vulture’s new tech. Adam Kubert’s art is solid, and with Zdarsky writing, this just might be a Spider-Man series to check out.
Not the Only Game in Town
I picked up some other notable comics (or my sons picked them up and I stole from them). These include a comic based on ABC’s Fresh off the Boat, which was fun and funny, with cool art, A Star Trek sampler from IDW which seemed to be capitalizing on this fascination with alternate universes ruled by fascists, a Tick comic from NEC, which is always fun, and Steam Wars: Strike Leader from Antarctic Press. That last one seemed more concerned with its aesthetic than telling a story, but is still pretty cool. The boys also got Ninja Turtles, The Simpsons, and a mess of other stuff that I couldn’t even remember.
All-in-all, it was a good Free Comic Book Day. I got to meet Spider-Gwen. I got some good comics, and my boys had fun too. Thanks to BC Comix in Fenton, MI. They have a nice shop, and this was the first time I visited. Hopefully events like this will keep new fans coming into their store, as well as Comic shops nationwide.
What about you? Did you pick up anything you want to rec? Mention it in the comments or take it to the comics forum.
I Hate Image
Story and Art: Skottie Young
Colors: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Lettering: Nate Piekos of Blambot
All-New Guardians of the Galaxy in “Smash & Grab”
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Aaron Kuder
Color Artist: Ive Svorcina
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
The Defenders in “Diamonds are Forever”
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Color Artist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man in “Time Flies”
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Penciler: Paulo Siqueira
Inkers: Walden Wong, Cam Smith, Jay Leisten, & Paulo Siqueira
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham